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Join us Wednesday at 11 AM PST for a live discussion of the latest chapter of the Jeremiah Journey

70 Years of Captivity in Babylon

This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, ESV)

Among those who accept a tradition (Jeremiah 29:10) that the exile lasted 70 years, some choose the dates 608 to 538, others 586 to about 516 (the year when the rebuilt Temple was dedicated in Jerusalem). The Babylonian Exile (586–538) marks an epochal dividing point in Old Testament history

Source; Britannica
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Putting controversy aside, what is not at debate is that the Lord allowed Israel and Judah to suffer and endure 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah pointed out that it came about due to their lack of response to God’s message over the past 23 years.

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem (vv. 1-2, ESV)

Ruling for 43 years, Nebuchadnezzar was the longest-reigning king of the Chaldean dynasty. According to Wikipedia, “By 601 BC, Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, had begun to openly challenge Babylonian authority, counting on that Egypt would lend support to his cause. . . Jehoiakim had died during Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and been replaced by his son, Jeconiah, who was captured and taken to Babylon, with his uncle Zedekiah installed in his place as king of Judah.”

Download the Bible Study Discussion Guide for Week #25 for FREE.

Daniel on Jeremiah’s 70- Year Prophecy

In the Bible this prophecy is also covered in Jeremiah 25 & 29 (Jeremiah 25:1-11; 29:1-10) and the Book of Daniel. The captivity came about due to the people’s failure to keep their covenant with God and not worship other gods. In other words, one transgression caused other transgressions: turning to other gods caused them to break their covenant and transgress further against God. Their refusal to repent and return to God only further fueled God’s “fierce anger” to burn against them.

Daniel wrote: “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus … I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:1-2). (Source: Lifehopeandtruth)

Although there might be debate over the exact years of captivity, some biblical sources provide support and explanation for the discrepancy. The following passage gives some insight into how the years were calculated.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states the following: “Note that it is important to keep these stages of the Captivity in mind when computing the seventy years of exile announced by Jeremiah 29:10; the interval between the first deportation in 605 B.C., in which Daniel himself was involved, and 536 B.C., when the first returnees under Zerubbabel once more set up an altar in Jerusalem, amounted to seventy years. Likewise, the interval between the destruction of the first temple by Nebuzaradan in 586 and the completion of the second temple by Zerubbabel in 516 was about seventy years” (comments on Daniel 1:1-2).

https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-9/

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For the shepherds have become dull-hearted,

And have not sought the Lord

Jeremiah 10:21 (NKJV)

I want to circle back to Jeremiah 3:15 and help someone understand the complexity of what God says there in comparison to what we see here. Look at this week’s Bible study outline and see how it fits in, too. When we were in chapter 3 of Jeremiah, much of our attention was placed on the whoredom of Israel and Judah. However, it is in that same chapter where God promises to provided shepherds “according to My own heart.” But what is this that we’re seeing here where God is calling His own shepherds “senseless?”

God points out the lack of responsibility among the shepherds of God’s people. He even says: “The shepherds are senseless.” God shows that the shepherds lack of leadership left Him with no choice but to remove these shepherds and recover His sheep as in Jeremiah 31:10.

But He said that He would provide us shepherds, right?

When comparing Jeremiah 10:21 and Jeremiah 3:15, the problem that emerges comes in the form of contextual confusion. Keep in mind that Jeremiah 3:15 is a providential promise of God to Israel based on the conditional repentance of the “faithless children” in verse 14. Think in terms of prophecy. He says it in chapter 3, but that does not mean that He will fulfill that prophetic promise immediately. Failing to connect the dots right here will have you left with your mental wheels spinning out of control trying to figure out why God failed His flock. Like I said, think in terms of prophecy rather than immediate actions by God. Jeremiah 3:15 is an eventuality, while Jeremiah 10:21 is the status of the conditions as they stand at that moment. That’s the difference. That’s where we see the prophecy in comparison to the revelation of the current circumstances.

We’ll cover more about this on Wednesday at 11 AM as we dig into chapter 10.

You will find plenty of debate on the topic of shepherding God’s flock. Some will deem that it is the whole counsel of God or nothing at all except a compromised message. Countless interpretations use the contents in various contexts and plenty of communication has left numerous congregations in confusion. In essence, consider the role of the shepherd. Modern day Christians tend to mix and match many of the roles in the Old and New Testaments. We need to end the confusion and work with some sense of clarity on these concepts in order to clearly hear and accept God’s message through His Word with confidence.

I pray that you grasp the fact that we can mistakenly mislead others with our own misinterpretations.

#JeremiahJourney

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Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

I keep wondering why people keep losing focus on the big picture. People tend to dig in and drill down to the details and seek the nitty gritty. That somehow usually leads them down the road to what are called minor details. But when the details become a distraction, I often am reminded of that notion that the devil is in the details. Ain’t he, though?

We can get lost on that fact that God is talking down to Israel and Judah. We can get caught up to God calling them out of their name. We have to see beyond God pleading with them to return to Him with repentance and a rejection of other gods. We have to see the big picture is that God was wronged by both Judah and Israel and that this prophecy is part of how things play out between God and them as their inevitable punishment is on the way. If we lose sight of he big picture here, we will continuously wrestle with the minor details and miss the message that God has for us to glean from this Old Testament prophecy.

How God Responds to Sacrifices

“. . . Your burnt offerings are not acceptable nor your sacrifices sweet to me.” (v. 20, NKJV)

Think about what God is saying right here. He just finished sharing how this nation has refused to return to Him. In fact, He shares that they are not even ashamed of the abomination that they committed against Him. He shared that he had set watchmen to sound the trumpet, but they had hardened their hearts and refused to listen. Check out verses15-17 in chapter 6 to see what I am saying.

Compare this to God’s sentiments in Isaiah 1:10 regarding sacrifices and offerings. If you lined those verses up side by side, they might pass for twins or at least kissing cousins. They are so similar in the subject matter and the sentiments of God’s seething rage and fury. In essence, He is not impressed with the ritualistic displays of the so-called holy nation. Nor is He interested in their sacrifices and burnt offerings, even new moon celebrations and similar activities. God basically says that they can keep all of that.

What God Truly Desires

God’s desire is for more than sacrifices. God’s desire extends beyond burnt offerings. Even though it might be the first born or the best of the best from among your flock, it is not at the top of God’s list for what he wants from us.

Take these two verses to Hosea 6:6 and Psalm 40:6. These verse share that our offerings are not worthy of God’s attention when our hearts are not in the right place. Amos 5:22 says that God will neither receive or regard these offerings. In the following verse, he says he doesn’t even want to hear them sing their songs. In verse 24, He simply speaks on justice and peace. In Micah 6:8 adds: “And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What does this tell you about ritualistic religion and relationships?

What is God’s desire?

Doing Just as God Desires of Us

We cannot offer God anything in place of what he desires from us. All of what we bring forth is futile and meaningless unless we have sought to fulfill the desire of God. We cannot expect Him to be pleased with our outward activity if we have not cleansed and cleared out a place for Him in our hearts. God desires to be in a relationship with us as His people.

God back to chapter 4 and the calling for the people of God to circumcise their hearts. Look at this chapter where it is said that: “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. . .” (v. 10, NKJV). Keep in mind that the circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and His people. It was an outward sign of a spiritual commitment. What God is saying is that our spiritual commitment and connection with Him should be binding like a covenant and it should keep us tied to Him beyond the outward trappings of offerings, sacrifices, and the semblance of symbolic worship.

“And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” – Matthew 12:7.

Think about it as we read chapter 6 this week. Be sure to tune in to our midweek livestream Bible study discussion on this chapter on Wednesday at 11 AM PST via YouTube. Look at it as a boost to your Bible reading and Bible study as you seek to devour the Word on your own.

Check out last week’s Bible Study session with Pastor Powell & myself

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If a man divorces his wife
and she goes from him
and becomes another man’s wife,
will he return to her?
Would not that land be greatly polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
and would you return to me?
declares the Lord
– Jeremiah 3:1 (ESV)

 

Recap of Week #2: God expects us to go and proclaim what He has set aside for us as our assignment.  God expects obedience from us in doing so.

Reflection on Week#2:  Jeremiah was called on to do some hard work.  He was to deliver a controversial message to his own people.  Not many men could do so in the face of rejection and ridicule.

God speaks in a straightforward tone and gets straight to the point. You have played the whore with many lovers (v. 1).  God does not pull any punches.  He just comes out with a metaphoric scenario about divorce, and then calls His people the equivalent of harlots.

If God calls you names like that. You need to rethink your next move with God.

This was not the first time God called out Israel, though.  He used Gomer to demonstrate the harlotry of the people of God and their strained relationship with Him.  In Isaiah, the Lord’s accusation against Israel is clear: How the faithful city has become a whore (Isaiah 1:21, ESV).  Don’t be shocked at the language.  God was in a rightful position to call out Israel.  After all, He knew them well and the ways of men were beneath Him.

Do you repent and turn back to God again? Or, do you simply take it all in and spend a moment alone with the thought of what God really thinks of you?

Make sure you review the Week #3 Bible Study Guide.

#JeremiahJourney2020

NOTE:

Due to a change in digital download providers, our latest work has been hours upon hours comparing services and pricing to continue to offer FREE downloads of our weekly study guides.  While this has thrown off our journey’s pace a bit, we do have an answer.

Find the Week #1 Bible Study Guide and Week #2 Bible Study Guide as well as all other future guides and FREE downloads via Scribd.

Thank you for your patience and we look forward to continuing to deliver more along the journey.

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11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

– John 1:11-13 (KJV)

We know that He came.  He arrived almost in as miraculous fashion as His conception.  He arrived to poverty.  He arrived to persecution.  He arrived to save humanity.

However, what about before He arrived? What was going on?

John tells it like this in John 1:1-3 (NIV):

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made

Before He arrived, prophets spoke of Him coming:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

Before He came, angels spoke of His coming:

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David – Luke 1:31-32 (KJV)

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. – Matthew 1:20-23 (KJV)

. . . Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  

He came to be with His people.  He came to live among them.  He came to bring them life and eternal life.

John’s Gospel says He arrived like this:  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NIV)

Isaiah’s prophecy in Chapter 53 described Him as:

. . .  he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But keep in mind that He came right on time.  He came for the redemption of “those under the law” just as Paul wrote so many years ago.  He came for all of the right reasons.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

– Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)

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25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man wasjust and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. – Luke 2:25-26

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38

Several years ago, I was at a conference with some faith-based leaders and clergy, where one of the breakout sessions placed us in small groups.  There some serious big named theologians and pastors in the small group that I ended up with, but I dare not share any names.  As we entered our brainstorming on our given topic, some discussion came up about the Advent.  The term was repeatedly thrown around and discussed by some, but others simply sat and stared in confusion.  Finally, one of the brethren leaned over and whispered in curiosity, “What is this Advent thing?” I smiled and whispered back,”They’re talking upon Christmas and the arrival of Christ on the scene.  That’s what they mean.” He smiled and eventually joined in the brainstorming session with the rest of us.

Christ’s arrival was an anticipated event.  It had been prophesied.  It had been preached.  It had been predicted.  It had been planned.  It had been purposed.

We have given it many names:

  • Advent
  • Birth of the Lord
  • Nativity
  • Christmas

We have come to look for Christmas as a season rather than a fulfillment of God’s plan.  We struggle and fight with the world to put Christ back into Christmas, erasing and eradicating the marketplace of X-Mas.  We have regulated our recognition of Christmas as a time for doing good works for the poor and needy rather than proclaiming the Good News of His arrival and eventual return.

What if we took on the zeal and dedication of a Simeon and Anna?

What if we did as the psalmist instructed and “waited patiently on the Lord?”

How about we change the scenario and flip the script this Christmas season?

Let’s Speak Christ 

We ought to let our words share about Christ.  We should preach and proclaim Him and His redemptive acts over and over again all throughout this season.  Say something about Him and for Him.

Let’s Show Christ

Believers are unique because they act on their belief.  Let’s go there with folks.  Let’s show the world that we are serious about our beliefs and put them into action.  Giving and helping are not seasonal activities for feeling good about what we have done.  We are to practice good works continually.  Let’s be more like Christ like and do more activities like Christ would do while we are on this earth.

Let’s Serve Christ

We do not do good because we are so good.  We do good because we serve a master who has been so good to us that we cannot help but serve Him for our entire lives while covered by the grace of His blood.  He’s been to good to us.  He’s done too much for us.  Serve our Lord with gladness and with fear and trembling.

Everyone wasn’t waiting for the Christ, the Anointed One, or the Messiah, the Anticipated One.  Some folks had just given up hope.  It had been too long to ever happen in their time.  Look at Simeon and Anna.  They held on and held fast.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Have you ever just wanted to quit?

Elijah ran away into hiding to quit.  Jonah booked passage on a ship headed out of Joppa and headed to Tarshish.  Jeremiah wept bitterly before the Lord, swearing not to speak His name again.  If a prophet could cal it quits, certainly one of us can.

Or, so we think.

In Isaiah chapter 40, we are given a depiction of both God and His people.  The Word reveals the inner workings of the intimate relationship between Jehovah and Jacob, the Almighty and Israel.  A clear view of how God is miraculous and wondrous in His ways arises from the words of comfort offered to the Lord’s prophet to be spoken to the eager ears of the people of Zion.

We want to rationalize our decisions, especially those decisions that might cause us some conflicts with our walk.  It is even harder when we find our decisions to become contrary to all that we have preached, taught and counseled others not to do.  We become hypocrites at that point.  We are saying one thing for others to do in their daily walk with the Lord and not doing any of what we have said ourselves.  That is seriously hypocritical and outright dangerous.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.– Isaiah 40:29

The Lord’s words sooth the discouraged and encourage those running on empty.  He can renew you by refueling you with power and strength.  You can be ready to throw in the towel, but that second wind emerges from somewhere beyond your gut.  You can wish that it was all over and that God would just take you out of your misery, but He provides enough for you to keep going on and getting stronger as you serve more earnestly.  He is able to fuel you as well as fill you.

Let the Lord put your heart and mind at ease.  Don’t stress yourself over your next major move or serious decision.  Listen to His words through His prophet.  become encouraged by what He says he will do for the weak and the empty as well as “them that have no might.” He wants you powered up by what He can give to you.  He wants you strengthened to serve.

Let the Lord use you in a mighty way.

 

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 “I have given you an example, that ye also should do even as I have done to you.”—John 13:15

We should live like Christ.  We should do just as He showed us how to do.  He gave us an example to live by.  That was the whole WWJD craze.  We had it printed on t-shirts and wristbands, even engraved on Bible covers.

Just do like Jesus.  Be like Jesus.  Take up your cross daily and submit yourself to the Lord for His sake.

Will it be easy? See how Isaiah describes His works and wonders for our salvation.

  Who has believed what he has heard from us?
  And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
  and like a root out of dry ground;
 he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
  and no beauty that we should desire him.
 He was despised and rejected by men;
  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
 and as one from whom men hide their faces
  he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 Surely he has borne our griefs
  and carried our sorrows;
 yet we esteemed him stricken,
  smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
  he was crushed for our iniquities;
 upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
  and with his wounds we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray;
  we have turned—every one—to his own way;
 and the LORD has laid on him
  the iniquity of us all.
 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
  yet he opened not his mouth;
 like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
  and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
  so he opened not his mouth.
 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
  and as for his generation, who considered
 that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
  stricken for the transgression of my people?
 And they made his grave with the wicked
  and with a rich man in his death,
 although he had done no violence,
  and there was no deceit in his mouth.
 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
  he has put him to grief;
 when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
  he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
 the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
 by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
  make many to be accounted righteous,
  and he shall bear their iniquities.
 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
  and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
 because he poured out his soul to death
  and was numbered with the transgressors;
 yet he bore the sin of many,
  and makes intercession for the transgressors.
  
– Isaiah 53 (ESV)

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Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
Malachi 3:8 (KJV)
 
 
Recently, I took some serious devotional and Bible study time to read Malachi. That’s a major undertaking when you consider what the Lord has to say through Malachi and to whom He is directing His words. The primary points of the biblical book are an accusation and warning to God’s people to act like people of God. Whew! That’s heavy stuff, even for seminary students, Sunday school teachers and simple, set apart and sanctified saints.
 
 
Old school Baptists sum up the prophetic book with quasi-biblical phrases such as: robbing God, opening up the windows of heaven, and bring all of the tithes into the storehouse.  These are certainly not verbatim and definitely not theologically sound when used in convenient contextual arenas.  Tithers hold fast to Malachi chapter 3, primarily verses 8-10, but this has nothing to do with introducing or ordaining the tithe.  It is about trusting God and upholding the practice of tithing as means of seeing that God is true to His promises
 
 
People have been utilizing such passages of the Bible to bully and beat up those who do not tithe for years.  Unfortunately, this is due to a failure to maintain a contextual view of the biblical passage and explore an expository and exhaustive explanation of the text in light of audience, intent and culture and history.  Some things may be lost in translation, but one has to keep in mind what type of Bible or study tools one uses.  A paraphrase will not give you an accurate translation since its main goal is to translate thought for thought, while a literal translation seeks to translate and interpret word for word. 
 
 
I would also like to add a warning about commentaries, especially when one is seeking a clear understanding of the text and its surrounding passages.  Understand what type of tool you have and how to use it.  The root word of commentary is comment.  When you read Matthew Henry’s commentary, it is just a comment by Matthew Henry on that book of the Bible or the entire Bible itself.  What you get is an insight into that particular person’s views on it.  If i use Matthew Henry, I am limited to the depths of Matthew Henry and the prevailing theology of his time.  Ever hear about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Were they discovered before or after Mathew Henry’s commentary? How about Martin Luther’s? Commentary usage requires careful steps to avoid slippery slopes.
 
 
Clearly, once one reads Malachi as an entire study, it becomes as glaring as Jeremiah or Isaiah, even Hosea.  The message is about God’s relationship with His people.  God desires a restored relationship with His people, but if they keep going the way that they have been going there’s no redemption or reconciliation.  God has to stop the nonsense and put the challenge before the people about testing and trying Him to see if He is faithful in delivering His promises.

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