Week 36: The Silent Years

“Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:4

What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? Who’s Who?

The years between the Old Testament and the New Testament are often called “The Silent Years” because the voice of the prophets comes to an end after Malachi. If we look at the events of the Old Testament, you will remember that the people who had once lived in Israel and Judah had been scattered throughout the lands of Assyria and Babylon. Back in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, we saw the Persians gain control over the empire and allow some of the Jews to go back and resettle in and around Jerusalem. God had been speaking to His people through prophets and last week we read the last of their words when we finished the book of Malachi. There were many places that we saw the prophecies come to pass – there had been warnings that the foreign nations would overpower Israel, and they did. We also read that God would restore Jerusalem, and He did. But there were prophecies that had not been fulfilled, prophecies concerning a Savior, or Messiah, that would come from the descendants of King David that would once again lead Israel and restore her to her former glory. But it would be 400 years before that particular prophecy would be fulfilled.

When we turn the page between the Old Testament and the New Testament, four hundred years have gone by and much has changed in the land that had once been called Israel. At the end of the Old Testament, the relatively peaceful Persians were in control. But after a hundred years or so, the Greek Empire would expand and take over what had belonged to the Persians when a young warrior known as Alexander the Great would go and conquer much of the known world. The Greeks, like the Persians, were peaceful for the most part and allowed people to stay in their homes but were expected to contribute to the now enormous Greek Empire. The Greeks began to unify the new empire by requiring a common language, legal system, monetary system, architecture, education, and philosophy. You probably remember studying Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in school. The Olympic Games were established and the Greek culture permeated all of the lands that had once belonged to the Israelites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians. Alexandria, Egypt became the capitol of the empire and a group of scholars began to collect and translate the books of the Old Testament into what will come to be called the Septuagint, which means “seventy” because it is believed that seventy priests and scribes worked on collecting and translating what we now call The Old Testament. After Alexander died, the area was separated into four parts and Israel was once again caught in the middle. Antiochus Epiphanes IV was a particularly horrible leader and a revolt is led by Judas Maccabeus. Hanukah commemorates a rededication of the Temple after it had been desecrated.    

While the Greeks were a peaceful people interested in art, philosophy, and education, they would not be able to withstand the rising Roman superpower. Julius Caesar would lead the newly established Roman army to take over all of the land that had once belonged to Greece and increase the territory to eventually include lands as far away as England, India, and China. The Romans were ruthless and the army was fierce, systematically organizing the road system that led to the expression: all roads lead back to Rome. It is this newly established Roman Empire that has Herod, a ruler over the area known as Palestine (Philistine lands), serving under the new Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, that we’ll read about next week in the book of Matthew and again when we read the book of Luke.

While the phrase “The Silent Years” is appropriately used to describe the time between the Testaments, God was actually busy preparing the world for what was about to come. The Greeks united the language system so that the stories of Jesus could easily be spread without a language barrier. The Romans created a road system that would allow the stories to reach far and wide very quickly, allowing the apostles to travel and reach people outside of their own community with the Gospel story. God may have stopped speaking through the prophets, but His work continued to prepare the world for His Son who was about to fulfill the promise to Abraham that “All the world would be blessed through Him” (Genesis 12:2-3). When we get to The Acts of the Apostles in a few weeks, we’ll see just how necessary it was that this preparation had taken place. God is always at work, even when we may think Him silent. Sometimes it just takes hindsight to understand it all.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

There is no assigned reading this week. Use the time to get caught up or just enjoy a break. Don’t forget the the Psalms are not part of the assigned reading so you might want to use this week to read through some of the Psalms. You may also do some research to read up on Alexander the Great, Hellenism, the Septuagint, Anitochus Epiphanes IV, the Maccabeans, Hanukkah, Antony and Cleopatra, and/or Julius Caesar.

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Week 35: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

“Again and again the Lord had sent prophets to warn both Israel and Judah to turn from their evil ways; He had warned them to obey His commandments which He had given to their ancestors through these prophets, but Israel wouldn’t listen. The people were as stubborn as their ancestors and refused to believe in the Lord their God.”                              2 Kings 17:13-14 (TLB)

What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? Who’s Who?

The next three books probably took place during the Divided Kingdom, right before and during the early years of the prophet Jeremiah, before the fall of Judah. During this time the nation of Babylon will defeat Assyria, conquer all of their lands, and set its sights on Judah who has just recently seen young Josiah take the throne. He will be responsible for a spiritual turn in the nation, possibly as a result of the warnings of these prophets that Babylon is approaching and Judah should not let down her guard but should, instead, repent of her sin.

Nahum (663-612) Nahum prophesied that Nineveh/Assyria would fall, even though Jonah had gone there earlier and there had been at least a temporary delay in its destruction. But God takes vengeance on His foes and the brutality of the Assyrians under their kings Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal would not go unpunished. The book is addressed to Nineveh, but was meant to give comfort to Judah.

Habakkuk (609) Near the end of the Assyrian rule, God says He will raise up the Babylonians to defeat the Assyrians. We can certainly identify with Habakkuk’s cries of injustice, his plea for mercy and help in times of trouble. They are written in the same way as Job as well as many of the Psalms. He questions Gods intentions but then vows to wait patiently and rejoice, choosing to rely on faith, not sight – a message for all of Israel and Judah who will have to wait for Gods justice in His perfect time.

Zephaniah (632) Unfortunately, Judah has not completely given up her false prophets, false gods, and false hopes and as a result will be judged and punished for her sins, just as the nations around her will be. But humbled Judah will again find Gods favor and will be restored. He is mighty to save.

The final three books in the Old Testament take place after the fall of Babylon, right before and during the time that Israel (which now refers to both of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah) is under Persian rule. No longer ruled by her own kings, Israel/Judah is now under the rule of Persian King Darius, following King Cyrus who had already issued a decree that the exiles could Return to their homelands. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther take place during this same time period.

Haggai (520) This book is the Lords message to Zerubbabel, the grandson of Jehoiachin and acting governor, and Joshua (Jeshua), the High Priest, in Jerusalem. The work of rebuilding the Temple had begun but come to a halt as people were building their own homes. Haggai delivers the message to get back to work and finish what had been started. It had been seventy years since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and now it is time for the Glory of the Lord to return to Jerusalem.

Zechariah (520-480) Like Ezekiel and Daniel (and Revelation) the book of Zechariah includes visions and oracles of an apocalyptic nature. The theme of judgment and redemption are underneath the visions and shines light on the Messiah as the ultimate hope for complete restoration.

Malachi (439) The last book in the Old Testament brings the Word of the Lord to His people, Israel, through His messenger Malachi. The Temple has been finished, the Wall of Jerusalem restored, and the people beginning to find rest in their new homes. But Jerusalem is still struggling with the question of God’s purpose for her and how they are to live their lives in the way that pleases Him. They continue to hold on to the promise that He will send One to be their Savior.  

“I will send My Messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:1

Weekly Reading Schedule:

  • Monday: Nahum 1-3, Habakkuk 1-3
  • Tuesday: Zephaniah 1-3, Haggai 1-2
  • Wednesday: Zechariah 1-5
  • Thursday: Zechariah 6-9
  • Friday: Zechariah 10-14
  • Saturday: Malachi 1-4

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Week 34: Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah

“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (NIV)

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?

This group of prophets probably all lived during the same time period as Isaiah, right before the Fall of Israel. Not all of the prophets identify the time period they lived in, but the messages are all similar – REPENT! These prophets are speaking mostly to Israel in the time before it was conquered by Assyria. God is speaking to His people through His prophets that He loves them and doesn’t want to see them destroyed. Oh, if only they had listened. Oh, if only WE would listen.

Joel (?)  Locusts. Can you imagine? It’s an attention-getter. I think of a swarm of grasshoppers, the closest thing I know of to locust, so thick they will block out the sun. And the noise they would make would be thunderous. They would eat and destroy everything they came in contact with. Joel says the locust and a severe drought are just an inkling of how things will be on the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” when Israel will be judged, even though Israel was looking forward to a ‘day of the Lord’ where Israel would be victorious over the neighboring lands.  Joel tells the people to repent before the Lord’s Army comes in like the locusts and devours their land. But, the Lord says after the judgment He will pour out His Spirit on ALL people and not only will His people Israel be restored, but ALL who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved just as He had once promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3.

Amos (750)  Although he was from a town in the southern kingdom of Judah, Amos was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel and probably hung out near the makeshift temple that Israel had set up in Bethel so that they could worship without having to go to Jerusalem. But the temple in Bethel also offered a place to worship the gods of the nations around them and now those nations would be judged right along with Israel. Idolatry was the norm. Israel found herself at peace with the nations around her. Funny how when a nation prospers, morality soon declines. Amos spoke to both Israel and Judah about the coming judgment and a time of exile because Israel has turned her back on the Lord. But, Amos also tells them of God’s plan for restoration after the time of judgment is complete.  

Obadiah (?)  The shortest book in the Bible, tells what God has to say about Edom. Edom is the land of the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, who thought himself the rightful heir to the land promised to Jacob (Israel). Edom was located on top of a mountain surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and thought itself higher than any other nation. God says otherwise.

Jonah (790-750) The story is probably familiar (who doesn’t love VeggieTales?) but the meaning comes to life now that we can put it in context. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. That was the capitol of Assyria! Nineveh, an ancient city established in Genesis 10:11, was the very center of the nation God would eventually use to defeat Israel. It was a wicked place and Jonah didn’t want to go. Can’t blame him, really. He was being sent into the belly of the beast. So when he runs away, guess where he ends up? In the belly of a whale! He was heading for Tarshish, the place farthest away from Assyria he could go. If you look at a map, Tarshish may have actually been located on the shores of Spain all the way on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, it only took being thrown overboard and eaten then thrown up by a whale to get Jonah to obey the Lord and actually go to Nineveh. Surprisingly, the Ninevites listen to Jonah, fear the Lord, and repent of their evil ways. It’s Jonah who has to learn the lesson that God will have compassion on anyone – ANYONE – who repents of their evil ways.

Micah (740-690)  Micah prophesied during the time of Judah’s kings Jotham, who was mostly a good king but allowed altars to foreign gods, Ahaz, who was a horrible king who teamed up with Assyria, and Hezekiah, who was a great king who brought about religious reform in Judah, although only temporarily. Micah’s prophesies are all about the political climate of the day and all that was at stake for Samaria, the capitol of Israel, and Jerusalem, the capitol of Judah. It wasn’t long after he and the other early prophets predicted it that Israel fell to the Assyrians. And yet, there is a message of hope that will probably sound familiar. Bethlehem will hold a special place in the future of Israel.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Joel 1-3
  • Tuesday: Amos 1-5
  • Wednesday: Amos 6-9
  • Thursday: Obadiah, Jonah 1-4
  • Friday: Micah 1-4
  • Saturday: Micah 5-7
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Week 33: Ezekiel 25-48

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?
This week we will finish up with the Major (longer) Prophets and begin reading the Minor (shorter) Prophets. The Major Prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel have basically fallen in chronological order although they have spanned a time period of about two hundred years, from the time right before the Fall of Israel (722 BC) until after the Fall of Jerusalem (586 BC). Unfortunately when we get to the Minor Prophets, we’ll have to jump back in time and cover these same time periods all over again. Therefore, as a guideline to the time frame of each of the Minor Prophets, I am going to group them into three groups, each lining up with a Major Prophet. We must realize that not all of the Minor Prophets tell us exactly where they fall so some assumption is made as to where they might fit in. There is no universally accepted time frame so this is just one possibility. Notice that the Minor Prophets actually do fall in book-by-book order.

Group 1 – Isaiah: These prophets will speak right before and during the Fall of Israel to Assyria. They will either be located in or speak to Israel approx. 785-681 BC

            Hosea, Joel (?), Amos, Obadiah (?), Jonah, Micah

Group 2 – Jeremiah: These prophets will speak right before and during the Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. They will either be in or speak to Judah approx. 650-585 BC

Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah

Group 3 – Ezekiel and Daniel: These prophets will speak during and after the Fall of Jerusalem, during the Exile and Return. They will speak to the returned exiles in Jerusalem. 600-430 BC

             Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Daniel (605-530) The book of Daniel takes place in Babylon and will include several visions and prophecies involving not only the near future for the Hebrew people but also apocalyptic prophecies of end times. Daniel will see the transition from the Babylonian kingdom (Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar) to the Medo-Persian Kingdom (Darius and Cyrus). The first seven chapters are written in Aramaic (common language) and foretell the downfall of the gentile empires that have ruled or will rule over Israel: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel interprets the dreams of both King Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar showing that these nations will only rule for a time. Chapters 8-12 are written in Hebrew and concern the prophecy for the nation of Israel, explained by heavenly beings. Both Gabriel and Michael are archangels that are seen to speak with Daniel and explain his own visions. Throughout the book there is symbolic language that will remind you of the book of Revelation, but throughout the symbols, visions, interpretations, and events there is one overlying message of hope: God is in control and nothing happens in all the world that is not first planned and ultimately fulfilled to show His power, glory, authority, sovereignty, strength and grace.

Hosea (760-720) The book of Hosea is the first in the section we call the Minor Prophets and we need to jump backwards to the time before Israel fell to the Assyrians. God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, just as Israel was adulterous to the Lord, worshipping other gods and following after foreign leaders. Just as Hosea was to stay with her, God stayed with Israel, and just as they were to go through a time of separation, Hosea was to stay loyal to her until they are reunited. God’s love is like that of a loyal husband and disloyalty to Him is like adultery.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Daniel 1-4
  • Tuesday: Daniel 5-8
  • Wednesday: Daniel 9-12
  • Thursday: Hosea 1-5
  • Friday: Hosea 6-10
  • Saturday: Hosea 11-14
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Week 32: Ezekiel 25-48

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.’” Ezekiel 28:25-26 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

The first half of the book of Ezekiel is all about Israel’s judgment. The second half deals with the judgment of the nations, showing that God is the God of all nations and not just of His beloved Israel. Chapter 21 told us that Babylon would be the sword God uses for this judgment. We see there will be judgment for Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and most especially Egypt. Egypt will be judged harshly for not helping Israel when given the chance and also for believing itself and its Pharaoh to be godlike and more powerful that the God of Israel. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Not long after these prophecies were given, Babylon would, in fact, invade these places. Tyre will fall not long after Jerusalem, and Egypt soon after that.

Back in chapter 3 we read that the Lord closed Ezekiel’s mouth so that his speech was limited to the words the Lord gave him to speak. Throughout the book of Ezekiel we hear Ezekiel quoting God and telling his audience: This is what the Lord says; hear the Word of the Lord. This phrase is used over a hundred times indicating that Ezekiel was truly an instrument for God, His messenger sent to give His people His Word. But in chapter 33 we see this lifted and Ezekiel’s mouth is once again opened as his speech in no longer restricted. Notice also how often you read the words, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The prophecies, the actions, the visions are all given for that one singular purpose – to show both Israel and all the world that He is the Lord.

When word finally reaches Ezekiel that Jerusalem has fallen to Babylon, his mission turns from that of the watchman sounding the alarm to the messenger offering comfort to those who mourn. He continues to prophesy that Babylon will not go unpunished and Jerusalem will have new life. The Spirit of the Lord even shows Ezekiel the image of dry bones coming back to life as an illustration of what the Lord will do for his beloved Israel. There can also be a personal message there that says God can bring life into things once thought dead. It’s only dead if it isn’t in God’s will to be used for His Glory. The Spirit then goes on to show Ezekiel in great detail how the Temple will be restored and find new life in a new era of renewal when the people of Israel will return and resettle in and around Jerusalem. I love how the book comes to an end with the words: “The Lord is there” or Yahweh-Shammah

When and Where Are We?

Ezekiel was among the first wave of Jews to leave Judah, along with King Jehoiachin, in the year 597 BC. The Fall of Jerusalem occurred in 586 BC, eleven years after he left Jerusalem. When a section begins with “In the ninth year” etc, he is referring to nine years since his exile began in 597, so nine years later would be 588 BC, which is still two years BEFORE the Fall of Jerusalem. The latest recorded date is twenty-five years after his exile began, which would be the year 572 BC.

Remember that even though there are places in this week’s reading that sound like they are taking place in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is still in Babylon and being shown visions of what is taking place, and what will take place, in Jerusalem.

Who’s Who?

The Spirit – We see the Spirit at work throughout the book of Ezekiel, not as Christians are used to experiencing the indwelling of Christ, but as an actual person acting on behalf of God or in some places entering into Ezekiel in order to carry out the will of God. We also see the Lord say He is going to pour out His Spirit onto His people, giving them a new heart and a new spirit. We’ll see evidence of this when we get to the book of Acts in the New Testament.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Ezekiel 25-28
  • Tuesday: Ezekiel 29-32
  • Wednesday: Ezekiel 33-36
  • Thursday: Ezekiel 37-39
  • Friday: Ezekiel 40-44
  • Saturday: Ezekiel 45-48
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Week 31: Ezekiel 1-24

“Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as He spoke, and He set me on my feet. I listened carefully to His words.  “Son of man,” He said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against Me to this very day.  They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.  (Ezekiel 2:1-2 NLT)

What’s Going On?

Ezekiel was one of the Jews deported from Judah, along with King Jehoiachin, ten years before the Fall of Jerusalem. We learn that he is from a family of priests and living in a settlement of exiles along the Kebar/Chebar River in Chaldea, just south of Babylon. He is thirty years old when the Lord began to speak to him and show him visions, prophesying to the other exiles in Babylon. We’ll read about two of his visions this week (chap 1 and 8) and then another next week (chap 40). These visions seem odd to us, but can you imagine how odd they would have seemed to its original audience?

Ezekiel, like all of the prophets, will deliver messages from God. The messages are given to Ezekiel both directly and indirectly, both verbally and visually, both literally and symbolically, involving both heavenly things and earthly things. Sometimes God will tell him exactly what to say and other times He will use parable and allegory. Notice the way the words are laid out on the page. This is written mainly in prose where most of the other books in this section are written as poetry.

While Jeremiah was called to deliver the Word of God to the people in Jerusalem, Ezekiel will speak only to those already in exile. Ezekiel may have known Jeremiah, but if you remember, the priests didn’t take too kindly to the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem. After these prophecies came true, it’s possible that Ezekiel remembered the words of Jeremiah and understood them more clearly. But, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel will also speak of a future restoration of Jerusalem. His message in the first part of the book is one of judgment but next week he will turn to words of Salvation. Hope. There was a flicker of hope amidst all of the despair.

There will be a lot of symbolism used throughout the book of Ezekiel with references to Israel and Judah as well as Jerusalem and Babylon. Sometimes these will be obvious as in chapter 16 where Israel is the bride who prostituted herself with others. Other times these symbolisms aren’t as obvious. I’m sure there are volumes of research on the matter, but as we read through Ezekiel just notice the wide range of symbols used, even if we don’t understand them all.

When and Where Are We?

Ezekiel probably arrives in Babylon during the second wave of deportations in 597 BC. (The first wave was in 605.) This is about ten years before the Fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel lives as an exile in the Babylonian kingdom and most scholars agree that Ezekiel never physically went back to Israel but was transported there in his visions only. Some of the story takes place in Jerusalem, but Ezekiel is probably a thousand miles away and only able to witness the events through his visions. Notice that many of Ezekiel’s prophecies have specific dates giving historical accuracy.

Who’s Who

  • Ezekiel – priest, prophet, seer living in Babylonian exile during the time of the Fall of Jerusalem; often called “Son of Man.”
  • Nebuchadnezzar – ruler of Babylonian Empire
  • Jehoiachin – the last king of Judah who is deported as an exile to Babylon
  • Zedekiah – Jehoiachin’s uncle who is left to rule the remaining Jews after Jehoiachin is taken away
  • “The prophets of Israel” – usually refers to the false prophets

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Ezekiel 1-5
  • Tuesday: Ezekiel 6-9
  • Wednesday: Ezekiel 10-12
  • Thursday: Ezekiel 13-16
  • Friday: Ezekiel 17-20
  • Saturday: Ezekiel 21-24
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Week 30: Jeremiah 40-52, Lamentations

“The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well.  All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is His Name.”    Jeremiah 50:33-34

What’s Going On?

Last week ended with a description of the Fall of Jerusalem and left Jeremiah in chains and in the care of a Babylonian guard. It’s interesting that the Hebrew people seemed to prefer the words of the false prophets over Jeremiahs, but this Babylonian starts off chapter 40 with a surprising statement that he knew that what was going on had been decreed by Jeremiah’s God and then sets him free. He stays for a while with Gedaliah just outside Jerusalem. When Gedeliah is killed, Jeremiah goes to Egypt with the other Jews where tradition holds that they turned against him and stoned him to death.

The word of the Lord as spoken through Jeremiah ends at chapter 51 and it’s fitting that it is filled with hope. I counted 42 phrases where the Lord promises “I will….” and it is clear that the story of His people is far from over. In chapter 52, as in chapter 39 and 2 Kings 24-25, the account of the Fall of Jerusalem is again given in heart wrenching detail as only someone who had experienced it first-hand could give. This week’s reading is not in chronological order but seems to be grouped in subtopics of similar form and structure. Zedekiah came before Gedaliah, but the two stories aren’t in order here.

While the book of Jeremiah consists mainly of the words of God, Lamentations is man’s response. The book of Lamentations is a book of “laments” which are just sad songs. In fact, most of the books in this section of The Prophets are all sad songs in a way. This book was probably written by Jeremiah which is why it is included here. Jeremiah would certainly have been sad about what he had seen and experienced and this book can be read as a book of poetry, not unlike the books in The Writings. There is a structure and a pattern to the way the book is written and although obvious in the English translation, it was even more so in Hebrew. In fact, in Hebrew the book is made up of a series of acrostics that correspond with the Hebrew alphabet. The theme of the book: Israel blew it and deserved what it got. Maybe it can serve as a reminder that God is at work and in this case, there is honest and earnest heartache for the actions that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the hope is that a lesson might be learned from it.

When and Where Are We?

Most of Jeremiah’s adult life was spent in and around Jerusalem. In this week’s reading we’ll see him imprisoned for a while when most of the Jews were taken away and dispersed throughout the Babylonian kingdom – or killed. There were three waves of deportations: 605, 597, and the final wave in 586 BC when Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians. Jeremiah and Baruch then go with many of the remaining Jews to Egypt where his story comes to an end. Again, the chapters are not in chronological order but clues can be found within the order of the kings of Judah. (Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah – then Gedeliah rules before Jehoiachin is released and honored)

Who’s Who?

  • Zedekiah – the last of the kings in Judah but really a puppet to the king of Babylon. When he was captured trying to leave Jerusalem, he was forced to watch his children die, blinded, and carried away.
  • Gedaliah – a governor left behind in Judah to watch over those who stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.                                                                                                  
Lamentations 3:22-23

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Jeremiah 40-43
  • Tuesday: Jeremiah 44-46
  • Wednesday: Jeremiah 47-49
  • Thursday: Jeremiah 50-52
  • Friday: Lamentations 1-5
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