No GOSH! today? Wow, you think you know someone and they come out and surprise you like this 😉
Fr. Mike neglected to mention this a few days ago
When we transitioned from Jeremiah Ch 20 to Jeremiah Ch 21, we made a time jump of roughly 20 YEARS!!
As for this point in the space between those chapters, here’s a little tip
Jeremiah is not necessarily writing CHRONOLOGICALLY
Jeremiah is writing PROPHETICALLY
So even how the Book of Jeremiah is assembled, it kind of goes back and forth, jumps ahead, etc.
We have jumped ahead
Jeremiah Ch 24 talks about Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah
Remember the THREE WAVES of Babylonian Exile?
The LAST WAVE happened under King Zedekiah
Jeremiah goes from talking about Josiah, who was the FIRST KING he served as prophet, to Zedekiah, who was the LAST KING Jeremiah served as a prophet
This is a long stretch of time here
We are kind of all of a sudden in the age of the LAST WAVE of Babylonian Exile
We are in this time period right before Zedekiah, whom Jeremiah is prophesying about
Jeremiah 24:8, “But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.”
So here we are in this space between the SECOND DEPORTATION and the FINAL DEPORTATION
But it’s happening in kind of “real-time” here in Jeremiah’s life, so that is the context
Now, we have these two baskets
THE GOOD FIGS
THE BAD FIGS
Jeremiah sees these and we don’t know where he sees these, if they’re a vision or if he literally sees them
The Lord says to Jeremiah, “Ok you need to understand the difference between the good figs and the bad figs.”
We might look at this and say, “Well the good figs are those that got to stay in Jerusalem. The bad figs were those that were EXILED.”
BUT GOD SAYS THE EXACT OPPOSITE
God says, “The good figs are the ones that were exiled. The good figs are the ones that were brought to Babylon. The bad figs are the ones that stayed in the Promised Land. The bad figs are the ones that stayed in Jerusalem.”
THIS IS SO INCREDIBLE!
Not only the ones who stayed in Jerusalem, but also the ones who had to go to Egypt
THIS IS HORRIBLE!!
The horrible part about this is that Jeremiah was among those who HAD TO GO TO EGYPT
He wanted to stay among God’s people
Jeremiah elected to essentially be amongst those as bad figs
JEREMIAH WAS NOT A BAD FIG
But he elected to be AMONG THOSE BAD FIGS that went to Egypt
Now why would it be the case that God described the people that went to Babylon as the GOOD FIGS and those who had remained as a remnant in Israel and over to Egypt as BAD FIGS?
Well, this is an INCREDIBLE THING!
Fr. Mike doesn’t want to give away too much of what is going to happen
What’s going to happen is that God is going to do “surgery” on his people
The “surgery” is basically that he will remove them from Israel and they are going to Babylon
In Babylon, their hearts are going to be made RIGHT
God is going to use King Nebuchadnezzar, as we see in Jeremiah Ch 25
Nebuchadnezzar is NOT a good king
He is a bad king
He has conquered the entire known world
He enslaved a lot of people
He killed a lot of people
He is NOT a friend of the Jews
So how can the God of the Universe say, “Nebuchadnezzar is my servant”?
Because God is able to use EVEN BAD PEOPLE TO ACCOMPLISH HIS ENDS
WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN THIS!!
PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME
God can use people like this to ACCOMPLISH HIS ENDS
Jeremiah is pointing out, “Yep. Nebuchandezzar is going to be a servant, a tool, of the Lord God.”
We can say this in a similar way in terms of JUDAS
We know that Judas was TRULY A BETRAYER
Judas was NOT THE HERO OF THE STORY
God was able to USE Judas, this broken man, to ACCOMPLISH THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD BY HIS BETRAYAL OF JESUS
NOW IT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT GOD WANTED!!
GOD DID NOT WANT NEBUCHADNEZZAR TO BE EVIL
NOR DID GOD WANT JUDAS TO BE THE BETRAYER
GOD WAS ABLE TO USE NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND JUDAS FOR A GREATER GOOD!!
THIS IS AMAZING!!
Part of that is when the people of Israel come back to Israel, up to this point they are CONSTANTLY TURNING TO FALSE GODS
They are constantly building their asherim
They are constantly worshiping Baal
They are constantly worshiping Molek
They are constantly turning to ANY GOD other than the TRUE AND LIVING GOD
After this EXILE, something you are going to see is a LACK OF IDOLATRY (FINALLY!!!! BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, EH PEOPLE OF GOD??!! 😉🤪)
Now they won’t be perfect when they go back to Israel
They are still human beings
ALL OF THE IDOLATRY WE SAW FROM JUDGES, SAMUEL, KINGS, CHRONICLES, ETC. IS NOT GOING TO BE AS PRESENT
IT IS AS IF GOD HEALED SOMETHING IN THEIR HEARTS BY SENDING THEM TO EXILE IN BABYLON!!
Part of that is what we see here in Daniel Ch 6
What do we see?
The same thing we saw in Daniel Chs 1-5
Daniel REFUSES TO BE CONFORMED TO THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM
Daniel REFUSES TO BE CONFORMED TO THIS PRESENT AGE
St. Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this age. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Basically, DO NOT BE LIKE THE WORLD AROUND YOU!!
BE LIKE THE LORD GOD!!
BE LIKE THE SAINTS!! (My personal favorite Saint is St. Joan of Arc in case you were curious 😉)
This is the KEY THING for ALL OF US TO REALIZE
Daniel and his buddies are being FAITHFUL in the face of UNFAITHFULNESS
It doesn’t matter what people around him are doing
Daniel says, “I know what God is asking me to do, so I am going to do that.”
So we have the story of Daniel in the lion’s den
Hopefully we can see that this is what can happen to us
We can be INCREDIBLY FAITHFUL when it comes to the Lord
We can be INCREDIBLY FAITHFUL when it comes to our own work and doing it excellently
AND WE WILL STILL HAVE PEOPLE CONSPIRE AGAINST US
WE CAN STILL BE IN SOME WAYS POWERLESS
In the midst of being POWERLESS we can always be FAITHFUL!!
We can always LEARN HOW TO LIVE IN EXILE
That is what Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael are giving an example of
HOW TO LIVE IN EXILE
BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE WE ARE!!
As Christians, we know this is the REALITY
God made this world and he made it good and he put us here
THIS IS NOT, ULTIMATELY, OUR HOME
WE ARE IN EXILE WHENEVER WE ARE FAR FROM THE LORD
WE ARE IN EXILE WHENEVER WE ARE FROM HIS ULTIMATE PLAN FOR US
You are where you ought to be, most likely, as we listen to the Lord’s voice and try to follow his will
THIS IS NOT OUR ULTIMATE HOME!!
On to Daniel Ch 7
Daniel Chs 1-6 were NARRATIVE
All these incredible things were happening to Daniel and his buddies
Now, we move onto the second half of Daniel which are REVELATIONS, essentially
Daniel sees these FOUR BEASTS
Just like the dream of the statue by Nebuchadnezzar, these four beasts that represent different kingdoms
The lion with eagles wings is an image of BABYLON
Majestic, powerful, beautiful, glorious
But then it is going to get its wings plucked off and a human heart was given to it
So the second beast is like a bear, which is an image of the MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE
Slower, stronger, and more devastating that a lion
It did a lot of destruction
The next beast is a leopard, an image of the GREEK EMPIRE (Now at this point, Fr. Mike’s explanation is a bit different from the notes in the Didache Bible above so just know that the four beasts represent four different ancient empires symbologically. Go read deeper in other sources if it helps 🤓)
Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the time he was 30
The fourth most terrifying iron-toothed beast is an image of the ROMAN EMPIRE
So we have this image like the statue of Nebuchadnezzar
The head of GOLD
The chest of SILVER
The BRONZE, IRON, and CLAY
So it is important for us to recognize that the LAST BEAST, which was terrifying, was NOT THE FINAL THING THAT DANIEL SAW!
What Daniel saw was the ANCIENT OF DAYS
What he saw after this was…
Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man.”
THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!
What it reveals to us is that in this world, we have kingdoms, nations, kings, princes, presidents, and all these things
THEY COME AND THEY GO
THEY RISE AND THEY FALL
And then there comes the ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN
THIS KINGDOM DOES NOT FALL!!
THIS KINGDOM ONLY RISES!!
SO WE GIVE GOD PRAISE BECAUSE THAT IS HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH!!
THAT IS THE CHURCH!!
GOD HAS INVITED US TO BE PART OF THIS!!
GOD HAS INVITED US TO BE PART OF THE CHURCH!!
EVEN THOUGH WE ARE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
EVERY TIME IS UNCERTAIN!!
EVEN THOUGH WE LIVE IN UNSTABLE TIMES
THIS LIFE IS UNSTABLE
THERE IS THE ANCIENT OF DAYS WHO CONQUERS ALL
HE HAS INVITED YOU
HE HAS INVITED ME
TO BE PART OF HIS KINGDOM!!
So we just say today and every day, “YES! THY WILL BE DONE!!”
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER