Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bible Challenge: Lamentation

When we left Jeremiah last week he had been imprisoned and was not the most popular person in Israel.

He continues to tell the people to wait for the Lord and to stay put.  He denounces them for their worship of idols and announces that God will pass judgement on the Egyptians, the Philistines, Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazar.  These are the nations that Israel is hoping will rescue them from the Babylonians.  For good measure he also notes that God will pass judgement on Babylon as well - but that doesn't seem to appease the people very much.

That brings us to the book of Lamentations.

Laments are a type of psalm - in the books of Psalms you can find other laments - for example Psalms 3 - 7 Psalm 39 and Psalm 130.  Usually laments begin with a cry for help and then move into a complaint.

It is likely that this book was not written by Jeremiah himself.

The first four chapters are an acrostic - The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters - each stanza begins with a different letter - in order.

These are laments over Jerusalem and pick up the themes in several of the psalms of lament.

Join the discussion of the major prophets on April 16 at 5 p.m.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bible Challenge: Deeper into Jeremiah

This week we have a long chunk of the book of Jeremiah.

The section begins with reminding the people that they should trust in God and that his ways are higher than their ways.

In Chapter 18 we have the image of God as the potter and Israel as the clay - this image has resonated with Christians through the centuries - the idea that we are in the hands of God can be both comforting and terrifying.  As Jeremiah points out - the potter will destroy his work if it's not coming out right and start over.

As we move later in the book Jeremiah writes to the elders of Israel to tell them that they should put down roots in Babylon - that God tells them to settle in and bloom where they are planted.  This is not what the people wanted to hear.  They wanted to hear that God was going to overthrow the Babylonians and bring them back from exile.

Jeremiah offers comforting words - that God will bring the people back and that there will be rejoicing - but not yet and not soon. - Be patient and wait is the message and it isn't well received.

The king burns the scroll and imprisons Jeremiah.