Day 238: Fall of Jerusalem
Jeremiah 20:1-6 Pashhur the priest took Jeremiah into custody and had him beaten and placed in stocks overnight. Nevertheless, upon release, Jeremiah picked up the prophecy where he left off, pronouncing condemnation upon Judah with a particular aim at Pashhur.
Ch 20:7-18 The fifth “confession” of Jeremiah is perhaps his most powerful. He complained about his difficulties and rejections but remained steadfast in his faith and trust in God, knowing that the Lord would not abandon him. The prayers of the prophets sometimes complained or took issue with God, but even in such instances they were essentially prayers of intercession for the people awaiting the coming of the Messiah. (CCC 2584)
Ch 21:1-14 After their first conquest of Jerusalem in 597 BC, the Babylonians installed a new king, Zedekiah, as a vassal lord over Judah. Zedekiah tried to win some allies and revolt against Babylon, but it was a futile effort; the Babylonians returned in 587 BC to inflict more damage. As they approached, Jeremiah suddenly became important to Zedekiah, who asked the prophet to perform a miracle or to ask God to turn back the offensive. However, it was too late: God was set on using Babylon’s victory to punish his people who had refused to heed God’s exhortations to rely on him alone.
The Book of Daniel
Author and Date:
Many scholars hold that Daniel was a legendary figure around whom various narratives, oracles, and visions were developed over the course of several centuries.
The component parts of this book were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and compiled by editors in stages.
The first part of Daniel (cf. chapters 1-6) is set in Babylon during the exile but appears to address the situation among Jews of the Egyptian Diaspora of the fifth to third centuries BC.
The visions of the next six chapters (cf. chapters 7-12) were written in the third and early second centuries B and include the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (d. 164 BC).
Chapters 13-14 were not incorporated into the text until the Greek Septuagint translation (third or second century BC).
Portions of the book were intended to exhort and encourage post-exilic Jews of the eastern Diaspora, while other parts of an apocalyptic character were written to strengthen the citizens of Judah under foreign rule and, later, persecution.
Daniel is not considered a historical book since the dates, personalities, and events presented do not coincide with the chronology of Jewish history received from other reliable sources.
They can, however, be seen as inspired moral stories and prophecies that provide timeless lessons of faith.
Essentially, Daniel surveys centuries of evil experienced by the Jews under foreign powers, from the Babylonian Exile through their domination under four different empires leading upto and including the Seleucid Greek empire of Antiochus IV.
The oppression under each foreign ruler became progressively worse-despite God’s promises-and there was no end in sight.
Yet, through its apocalyptic imagery and moral stories, Daniel reminded the people that God is still in control of human history.
Something as repulsive as foreign domination can be part of God’s eternal plan because he can bring good even out of evil, and he will triumph in the end.
God’s revelations to Daniel and their fulfillment bear witness to his mysterious presence and plan as salvation history unfolds.
Jews of the Diaspora could find in Daniel a model for how to survive and live faithfully in a foreign land.
Daniel and others find employment with foreign kings and fulfill their duties admirably but uncompromisingly as they put the practice of their faith first.
Daniel shows that by working with foreign powers and remaining faithful, one can help bring about a conversion to belief in God.
Amid the persecutions of Antiochus IV, the message conveyed by this prophetic book is one of hope.
God can save his people from even the most impossible situations by miraculous means when necessary.
Daniel also offers hope of an everlasting kingdom (cf. 9:24), a resurrection of the dead, and a judgment by which every person attains everlasting life or “everlasting contempt” (12:2).
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Daniel 1-14 This book is set in Babylon during the Babylonian Exile under the reign of both Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent Persian rule. Some scholars view this setting as a coded allegory for the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid Greek leader who desecrated the Temple in 167 BC. The Book of Daniel was written partly by a narrator in the third person, (Chapters 1-6, 13-14) and partly in the first person voice of Daniel (Chapters 7-12). The Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, and Hebrew texts have significant differences, including several blocks of text appearing in some versions but not others. This book is prophetic and apocalyptic; the visions pertain to his present day as well as to the coming of the Messiah and to the end of the world. The story of Daniel’s miraculous survival in the lion’s den is among the best known stories of the Old Testament.
Ch 1:1-7 There is some discrepancy in the dates, as the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign would have been nearly a decade before the first deportation to Babylon (Shinar, in Greek) in 597 BC.
To serve in the king’s palace: It was a fairly common practice for conquering kings to appoint some members of the conquered people to government positions, particularly in matters pertaining to their own people.
Ch 1:8-16 The faithfulness of Daniel and the three companions was rewarded. Their refusal to eat the meat of pagan cuisine was a clear demonstration of their unswerving fidelity to the Law. The food prepared in the king’s court may have violated Jewish dietary laws or could have been used in pagan sacrifices. Sympathetic court officials accommodated Daniel’s desires and prepared meals consistent with Jewish regulations. (CCC 307)
Ch 1:17-21 It was abundantly clear that Daniel and his coterie of companions enjoyed divine assistance. This was especially reflected in their profound wisdom. True wisdom transcends academic knowledge and involves an integrated moral life and a sound will. (CCC 216, 2690)
Ch 2:1-12 None can show...the gods: The seers spoke the truth, except in their reference to a multitude of gods. Only the one true God, endowed with infinite wisdom and power, could reveal the king’s dream to them. (CCC 2117, 2138)
Ch 2:13-24 Daniel’s affiliation with the palace seers is not clear, but his intervention on their behalf suggests that they enjoyed a good relationship. A deep spiritual life coupled with a deep wisdom enabled Daniel and his companions to interpret the king’s dream effectively. (CCC 2104)
Ch 2:25-35 In his audience with the king, Daniel gave all the credit and glory to God for having revealed the dream to him. In doing so he excused the king’s seers for their inability to understand the dream and likely saved them from execution. The dream was highly symbolic: the pieces of various metals represented different kingdoms in their respective eras of history. The stone signified the power of God, which would shatter the idol completely. The destroying stone is a type of Christ (TYPOLOGY!!), who overcame sin, falsehood, and the Devil through the power of his redemptive Sacrifice. (CCC 288)
Ch 2:36-49 Daniel acknowledged Nebuchadnezzar’s power as something given by God to accomplish his will among the Jewish people. The underlying interpretation pointed to God’s absolute sovereignty over the world and its historical development. The king was moved by Daniel’s wisdom and, consequently, acknowledged the God of Israel. The interaction between Daniel and the king demonstrates God’s intervention in drawing the pagan people to the truth. Christ noted that all civil authorities derives from the authority of God, and the Catechism teaches that civil authority has an obligation to rule in accord with God’s will as expressed in natural law. (CCC 1899, 1901, 1918, 2234, 2238)
Proverbs 15:28 St. Peter wrote, concerning the proper response to insult and persecution, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who may revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Pt 3:15-16). (CCC 1716)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
As a young man, Daniel was taken to Babylon in the first deportation in 605 BC.
The stories of his time there are well known, particularly his good health despite a diet of only vegetables and water (Dn 1) and his ordeal of being cadet into a lion’s den (Dn 6), among other stories.
But many who read his story miss the significance of the events of Daniel’s life.
Rather than a simple collection of miraculous tales about the prophet’s survival, the narrative can be seen as a microcosm of Judah’s experience in exile.
In short, Daniel’s story exemplifies God’s faithfulness to Judah during their time of trial.
Judah, like Daniel, was shielded by grace amid her life under pagan rule.
Like Daniel, the faithful remnant of Judahites in Babylon refrained from food sacrificed to idols, kept the Torah zealously, and continued to pray and hope for the deliverance of their nation.
Like Daniel, they were kept safe by God’s protection, even in the “lion’s den” of Babylon among the pagan “beasts.”
The depiction of pagans as beasts and God’s people as human beings has a venerable history in the Bible and is, in fact, an important key to the symbolism in Daniel.
In Daniel 2, Daniel gives the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, revealing that the various materials of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represent four kingdoms.
Nebuchadnezzar, with his rule of centralized and absolute power over his kingdom, is represented by the statue’s head of gold, much to Nebuchadnezzar’s liking.
But it will be a small stone that will destroy the mighty statue and fill the earth.
That stone, Jesus Christ, is a stone which is to be rejected, but will yet prove to be the cornerstone of the Church, his Body, that will fill the earth with its members.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Key Event 46: Image of the Five Kingdoms (Daniel 2)
Daniel reveals and interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, in which the king saw an images representing four kingdoms that will rule over the people of God: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel prophesies that in the time of the fourth kingdom, God will establish his own kingdom, which will have no end.
GOSH! (I typed that word out before Fr. Mike began his reflection! Just had a hunch he would start that way for some reason 😉)
YOU GUYS! HAHAHA
We are going to get to Daniel in just a second...mmmmm
We get a sense of how profoundly HURT Jeremiah was
How profoundly REJECTED Jeremiah was
Jeremiah was put into STOCKS (Apple? Amazon? Maybe some index funds? 🤪)
What does Jeremiah say to God? This is INCREDIBLE
Jeremiah 20:7, “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, ‘Violence and destruction!’ For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in…”
Jeremiah doesn’t want this job
His call has been to be a prophet and speak the truth
We have LYING PROPHETS like Pashur the priest, the son of Immer
Not only does Jeremiah have to speak the truth, but he is SURROUNDED by LYING PROPHETS who have NO PROBLEM WITH LYING
These LYING PROPHETS who have no problem saying, “Listen, God is going to deliver us from the Babylonians just like he delivered us from the Assyrians.”
Remember the story that God DID deliver the people of Israel and Judah and Jerusalem from the Assyrians
Jeremiah is saying, “That is not going to happen. God is going to allow us to fall by the hands of the Babylonians.”
Fr. Mike has to slow down?? It only took 238 days for him to realize it 😉
After being put into stocks, Jeremiah is saying very clearly that God is going to ALLOW JERUSALEM TO FALL
Jeremiah Ch 21 is The Fall of Jerusalem
This is Jeremiah’s HEART BREAKING and we hear it
In Jeremiah 20:14, “Cursed be the day on which I was born!”
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF I HAD DIED!!
At the very beginning of this Bible in a Year, we heard Job say something VERY SIMILAR
It’s one of those ways of trying to express, capture, and convey GREAT GRIEF
I AM REALLY HURTING!!
God has CALLED ME to this moment
Remember, God COMMANDED Jeremiah not to marry because he KNEW what Jeremiah would have to go through
He knew the PAIN that Jeremiah would have to go through
God spared him in this way
“I don’t want you to have to see your wife and your children go through the pain that you are going through.”
We know for ourselves that it’s one thing to be the one going through pain
IT IS ANOTHER THING TO SEE THE ONES WE LOVE GOING THROUGH PAIN
So God made Jeremiah an isolated individual and called him to be alone
Even that was to SPARE HIM the extra pain of the cost of love
All of us know that Jeremiah is going to be even more deeply in pain
Here is a celibate man
To limit the pain just to Jeremiah and not to his potential wife and children
So Jerusalem is going to FALL and it is going to be HORRIBLE
We will soon read The Book of Lamentations
This was also written by Jeremiah when he walked around the city during the Babylonian siege
The rains are coming down
Jeremiah has this lament that it seems like THE CITY ITSELF IS WEEPING
Jeremiah keeps on telling the people, especially in Ch 21, “HERE IS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN”
When he actually SEES it happening in The Book of Lamentations he just doesn’t describe it as an impartial observer or as someone who is delivering the prophecy of God’s righteous judgment
He describes it as one who not only suffers it HIMSELF
He describes it as one whose heart is breaking because of the suffering the people are going through
IN THE MEANTIME…
The first half of Daniel are the stories most of us know
Daniel, Shadrach (aka Hananiah), Meshach (aka Mishael), Abednego (aka Azariah)
Here is Fr. Mike talking about the accents and whatever so….😉
The first half of Daniel is STORIES written in the THIRD PERSON
The second half of Daniel is REVELATIONS written in the FIRST PERSON
We get some really INCREDIBLE IMAGERY in the second half of The Book of Daniel
So remember, this was the FIRST WAVE of deportation after Jerusalem fell
Daniel and Jeremiah were contemporaries, living at the same time
In the time of the Book of Jeremiah, Daniel had already been taken to Babylon
So now, in the Book of Daniel, Daniel and his friends (please don’t make me type their names all out again. Look up a few lines and see for yourself 🤪) are trained for three years to be helpers in the king’s court
They are trained to be part of the people of Babylon as servants
We have two big moments
The first moment is where Daniel and his companions insist on eating according to Jewish dietary law
They don’t want rich food and wine
They were happy with vegetables and water
Clearly someone’s mom put this part in the Bible, to make their kids eat vegetables 🤪
But it is the Word of God, so it is COMPLETELY TRUE
God blessed the four of them for BEING FAITHFUL EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THEIR EXILE
Almost all of the Bible is, “Here is what you are going to do when you live in the Promised Land.”
Here we have, “What if you are NOT living in the Promised Land? What do you do THEN?”
We heard Ezekiel say, “You are going to build houses. You’re going to plant gardens. You are going to marry Jewish people and you’re going to have children. Here is how you are going to live in exile.”
Daniel is a GREAT EXAMPLE of, “Here is how WE CAN LIVE IN EXILE.”
Daniel Ch 2 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream
It is REALLY REMARKABLE
He’s no one’s fool
If he tells his advisors his dream and tells them to interpret it, they will tell him whatever he wants to hear
He has no way of knowing if the interpretation is accurate
So he throws out the decree, “Not only do you have to tell me the interpretation of the dream, but you have to tell me the DREAM ITSELF or else how do I know if you are telling me the truth?”
Of course, no one can do that
Daniel comes forward and asks his buddies, “Hey pray with me or else we are going to get destroyed. We are part of the wise guys here and Nebuchadnezzar is going to kill us all if we can’t give the dream and the interpretation.”
So they pray before the Lord
Then Daniel says, “Here’s the dream and I know the dream NOT BECAUSE OF MY WISDOM. NOT BECAUSE OF ME. But I know this dream BECAUSE THE GOD OF HEAVEN HAS REVEALED THIS TO ME.”
So even in this moment, Daniel is BEARING WITNESS TO THE LORD GOD OF HEAVEN
The Lord God who has brought Daniel and his buddies into covenant with him
Daniel does not take credit for this
Daniel says, “This is from God.”
BECAUSE IT IS TRUE!!
THERE IS NO WAY THAT DANIEL ON HIS OWN COULD EVER POSSIBLY DREAM OR IMAGINE WHAT NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM OR INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM WAS
The DREAM was REMARKABLE
A great statue with a head of GOLD
The chest is SILVER
The belly and thighs were of BRONZE
The legs were of IRON
The feet were of CLAY
The HEAD OF GOLD is BABYLON
The kingdom after Babylon will be PERSIA which is SILVER
The kingdom after Persia will be GREECE which is BRONZE (Alexander the Great will conquer the Persians)
The kingdom after Greece will be ROME which is IRON
As we know, the Roman Empire collapses a few hundred years after the time of Christ
So what is Rome replaced by?
The IRON is replaced by this STONE that is NOT CUT BY HUMAN HANDS BUT BY GOD HIMSELF
THIS STONE BECOMES A GREAT MOUNTAIN OVER ALL THE EARTH
ALL OF THESE KINGDOMS ARE OVERCOME BY THE KINGDOM THAT GOD HIMSELF ESTABLISHES
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE CHURCH
IT GOES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORLD!!
THE CHURCH IS FURTHER REACHING THAN THE BABYLONIAN EMPIRE!!
THE CHURCH IS FURTHER REACHING THAN THE PERSIAN EMPIRE!!
THE CHURCH IS FURTHER REACHING THAN THE GREEK EMPIRE!!
THE CHURCH IS FURTHER REACHING THAN THE ROMAN EMPIRE!!
(But is it further reaching than the GALACTIC EMPIRE from StarWars?? 🤔🤔🤓)
THE CHURCH IS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD!!
THE CHURCH IS ESTABLISHED BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF!!
We are going to get some GREAT STORIES of how to live in exile
Daniel is going to show us the way with his companions
More on their names tomorrow (Oh yay I get to type them many more times to come!! 😉)
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you so much. We give you praise and glory. Lord God, thank you so much not only for your wisdom in Proverbs, but also for helping us follow along with Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet, and thank you for introducing us to Daniel and his companions, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. We thank you so much for the gift that you are, the gift that these prophets have been to us, to the world, to history, and how they just keep pointing back to you, keep pointing to your truth. Help us to walk in your truth and live in your truth this day and every day of our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”