Day 226: Unfaithful Israel
Jeremiah 3:1-3 Just as we can understand God’s covenant with Israel by comparing it to the bonds of marriage, so too can we understand Christian marriage by an analogy to God’s covenant with his people. In both instances it is a commitment to a faithful communion of love. St. Paul described marriage in terms of Christ’s love for his Church to express the mutual and total self-giving required of both husband and wife (cf. Eph 5:21-33). (CCC 370)
Ch 3:10 Josiah, one of the more virtuous of the Kings of Judah, promoted reforms effectively that reflected the covenant. He banished idolatry from the land, repaired the Temple, and reinstituted the Passover celebration and other feasts. These efforts, however, did not take permanent root among the people and therefore did not result in the widespread conversion required by God’s mandate (cf. 2 Kgs 22-23).
Ch 3:14-24 In spite of such foreboding, this prophecy expresses also a strong measure of hope. Though severe punishment awaited the people, repentance, and conversion would stay the punishing hand of God. Through these prophetic words, God promised to restore Jerusalem to its former glory, drawing the admiration of all people and becoming the center of unity. (CCC 1440)
Ch 3:19 Among my sons: The term does not mean sons by nature as in the case of the divine Person, Jesus Christ. Rather, the ancient Jews applied the term “son of God” to indicate that a person had an especially intimate relationship with God. These included kings, priests, and sometimes prophets. (CCC 440-441)
Ezekiel 29:1-16 The events that led to the Exodus of the Chosen People from Egypt are reflected remotely in the new alliance sought with the Egyptians. Egypt had welcomed the Israelites to its land when famine struck the region of Canaan, but Egypt also later oppressed the Israelites, leading up to God’s intervention through Moses. In the present circumstances, Egypt was also the first choice of Israel’s kings who sought an alliance for the sake of protection and survival. This recourse to the help of Egypt, rather than relying on God, would lead again to severe hardship and oppression.
Ch 29:17-21 As a reward for Nebuchadnezzar’s execution of God’s judgment to destroy the city of Tyre, God delivered Egypt, a longtime enemy, into the hands of the Babylonians.
Ch 30:1-26 Egypt would eventually be the subject of God’s judgment for its mistreatment of Israel. Like Israel, Egypt would experience the turmoil of exile, thus establishing a kind of solidarity between these two disparate peoples.
Broken the arm of Pharaoh: Egypt’s demise would be gradual rather than dramatic; “breaking the arm” of Pharaoh indicates the first phase in the nation’s conquest by Babylon.
Make the sword fall from his hand: Breaking the arm of Pharaoh in effect “disarms” him.
Proverbs 14:15 Prudence is the Cardinal Virtue that enables a person to choose the most virtuous action in a given set of circumstances. It guides the judgments made by the conscience and helps us to form a decision on the right course of action. It also guides our use of all the other virtues. (CCC 1806)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So Brible is a word now!
I HAVE SPOKEN 😉
I think we have to look at Proverbs again
Proverbs Ch 14 has been a treasure trove of good things
Proverbs 14:16, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool throws off restraint and is careless.”
How many times do we think that having boundaries in our lives is something that LIMITS our freedom?
We sometimes confuse FREEDOM for LICENSE
We think that FREEDOM is the ability to do WHATEVER I WANT
SO WE THROW OFF RESTRAINT AND ARE CARELESS
The DEFINITION OF FREEDOM is the POWER TO DO WHAT I OUGHT
That is a MASSIVELY DIFFERENT THING
FREEDOM IS NOT LICENSE
LICENSE is I get to do whatever I WANT
TRUE FREEDOM is the power, the ability to do whatever I OUGHT
We recognize that INTERIOR FREEDOM to LOVE like I OUGHT TO LOVE
To be able to WORSHIP like I OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO WORSHIP
So often we are NOT FREE
So often we DO NOT LOVE LIKE WE SHOULD
So often we DO NOT SPEAK LIKE WE SHOULD
So often we DO NOT LIVE LIKE WE SHOULD
BECAUSE WE ARE NOT INTERIORLY FREE
To be able to turn away from evil when we see it, and not just have the license to do what we want
That is an INCREDIBLE INCREDIBLE GIFT
WHAT A GIFT!
Speaking of gifts
We have Ezekiel
Remember Ezekiel was part of the SECOND DEPORTATION
The FIRST DEPORTATION included Daniel and his crew
Ezekiel was deported from Judah to Babylon
There is going to be the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and everyone else will be taken from Jerusalem to Babylon (Except for the lame, crippled, blind, Dallas Cowboys fans, etc. 🤪)
So here is Ezekiel BEFORE the THIRD DEPORTATION
He has this prophecy against EGYPT
REMEMBER Judah kept looking to Egypt for help against the Assyrians and Babylonians
Here is EGYPT that is UNFAITHFUL
The people of God were tempted to make an alliance with the Kingdom of Egypt and the Pharaoh
Ezekiel is saying, “Do not look to Egypt to help you. I’d let you know.”
Ezekiel says, “I will break the arms of the Pharaoh and I will not bind them up…”
Ezekiel 30:12, “And I will dry up the Nile, and will sell the land into the hand of evil men; I will bring desolation upon the land…”
Ezekiel 30:24-25,”And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand;...I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon…”
So wait a second?
The Babylonians are not any better than the Egyptians!
And you are correct!
That’s why when we get to the end of these prophets, they are going to prophesy AGAINST BABYLON
Not because they are WAITING
They are highlighting the fact that God can even USE THESE EVIL NATIONS
God can use THESE SINFUL PEOPLE
God can use them TO CORRECT THE NATIONS
God can use them TO CORRECT EVEN HIS OWN PEOPLE
That’s what God is doing by ALLOWING THE EXILE
The Babylonians, via Nebuchadnezzar, are GOD’S INSTRUMENT to bring about FUTURE REPENTANCE of the People of Israel
If it sounds very strange and you are wondering if all of a sudden the King of Babylon is a GOOD GUY and NOT A VILLAIN…
It is because God is able to use EVEN THOSE WICKED PEOPLE, EVIL PEOPLE, TO ACCOMPLISH HIS ENDS
Hopefully that makes sense to you
On to Jeremiah
He lived to see the Assyrians
He lived to see the Babylonians
He lived to see the FALL AND DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM
Here is the beginning of his ministry
King Josiah is still alive
Do you remember King Josiah?
King Josiah renewed Temple worship
Do you remember that Jeremiah was originally a priest?
Jeremiah 3:6, “The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: ‘Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot?’”
Remember in the days of all the kings, especially King Josiah, there were people who instead of worship of God in the Temple, they performed CULT WORSHIP
We talked about this before
Every high hill under every green tree were code words for FALSE GODS and FALSE TEMPLES
NOT JUST FALSE WORSHIP
But also CULT PROSTITUTION
This is one of the reasons it is such an appropriate analogy to associate IDOLATRY with ADULTERY
It just makes a lot of sense
This has to do with not only perverted worship of the Lord
But also a distorted version of how to enter into sexual relationships
Jeremiah 2:32-34, “Can a maiden forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. How well you direct your course to seek lovers! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways. Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in…”
So let’s go back to this…
Can a maiden forget her ornaments or a bride her attire?
When you were married in the Old Testament, you wore different kinds of clothes that indicated you were married, which is similar to a wedding ring essentially
So God is saying, “Can you forget the fact that you’re married? Would you take off your wedding ring? Would you not wear the clothes that indicate you are taken? You belong to someone else! Someone already loves you! And you’ve already declared you love them. And yet my people have forgotten me. Days without number.”
It’s been 800 YEARS OF FAITHLESSNESS OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL by the time Jeremiah is preaching
Even to wicked women you have taught your ways.
Sometimes our sin ends with us, VERY RARELY
It is our OWN DECISION
There is something REALLY INSIDIOUS about EVEN TO OTHERS YOU HAVE TAUGHT YOUR WAYS
This is called the SIN OF SCANDAL
The sin of scandal is not just, “I have chosen sin. But I have led others to choose sin by my choosing sin.”
If that makes any sense
Here is what Jeremiah is saying, “Even to wicked women you have taught your ways. Also on your skirt is found the lifeblood of guiltless poor.”
We are going to hear this again and again
Fr. Mike mentions Ch 2 because of what we hear in Ch 3
Jeremiah 3:6, “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot?”
Cult prostitution has a price and that’s the price of the INNOCENT PEOPLE WHO SERVE AS CULT PROSTITUTES
The price is the NUMBER OF CHILDREN THAT ARE CONCEIVED in a cult prostitution temple
Jeremiah is making these connections there
ALSO ON YOUR SKIRTS IS FOUND THE LIFEBLOOD OF GUILTLESS POOR
These people are INNOCENT
Those who are forced into essentially SEX TRAFFICKING
Those children that are conceived in this cult of prostitution would often later go on to be SACRIFICED to the false god Molech
OUR SINS RARELY END WITH US!
BUT THE EXTEND AROUND US!
THEY EXTEND TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO PAY THE PRICE FOR OUR OWN SINS!
That’s what Jeremiah is often saying here!
We are going to hear Jeremiah talk about this more and more and more
THIS IS THE CALL FOR ALL OF US!
TO BELONG TO THE LORD!
We can keep saying like yesterday, “I’m busted, but I’m not going to admit my guilt.”
We can say to the Lord, “God, you are right. I have given my heart to others. I have given my heart to other gods. I have given my life. I have based it around other things. But today, once again, I just ask you to take me back.”
Of course, even asking God to take us back is a RESPONSE to HIS INVITATION TO COME BACK TO HIM
SO LET’S DO THAT!!
It’s not just a matter of us saying, “Oh that’s what I’m going to do.”
WE NEED GOD’S GRACE
NONE OF US ARE ON OUR OWN
NONE OF US CAN DO IT ALONE
KEEP ON INTERCEDING FOR EACH OTHER
KEEP ON PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER
WE NEED EACH OTHER
WE NEED GOD
THE GOOD NEWS IS WE HAVE BOTH
WE HAVE EACH OTHER
WE HAVE GOD
KEEP PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER
KEEP PRAYING FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you once again for this day. We thank you for speaking to us. We thank you for calling us to be yours. We thank you for giving us the grace to turn to you every day once again. Please receive our thanks. Receive our praise this day. And help us to walk in your ways. Help us to be wise. Help us to not be foolish, but to be prudent and to use the gifts you have given us well. Especially the gift of this day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”