Day 247: True Repentance
Jeremiah 33:1-13 Through the prophet, the Lord elaborated once again that he would eventually restore Judah and Jerusalem and would return the exiles back to their land. These prophecies drive home the truth that God is All-powerful and All-knowing and is, therefore, the Lord of history. In his infinite wisdom and power, God can undo the chaos and destructive effects of sin provided there is a repentance and conversion. Jeremiah predicts not only that Judah will be restored but also that it will win the admiration of other nations.
Ch 33:14-26 The Lord promised once again a future king for Israel, a descendant of David, as well as sufficient priests to offer the ritual sacrifices in the Temple. The continuity of the Davidic dynasty would be interrupted by the Babylonian captivity. Nevertheless, the line of David would culminate with the coming of the Messiah, the eternal King. (CCC 439, 559)
Ch 33:24 Two families: Judah and Israel, the Southern and Northern Kingdoms.
Ch 34:1-7 Chapters 34-37 detail Jeremiah’s encounters with the kings of Judah. In this chapter, his prophecy to Zedekiah, the King of Judah installed by Nebuchadnezzar after the first exile, states that he would avoid dying a violent death provided he accepted defeat and capture as just penalties. Zedekiah, however, did not comply with the divine instructions and subsequently was blinded and tortured, which eventually led to his death in exile.
Ch 34:8-22 The new regulations regarding slaves may have been a consequence of the wars with Babylon. Perhaps these policies reflect the Mosaic Law governing debts and jubilees, or maybe the slaves were liberated to assist in the war effort.
Judith 3:1-9 The inhabitants of Azotus and Ascalon begged Holofernes for peace. Taking advantage of the sorry plight of the Jews, Holofernes destroyed their shrines and sacred places. These acts of violence against what was most dear to the Jews encouraged Nebuchadnezzar’s claim of divinity.
Ch 4:1-15 The people of Judah responded to this unjust oppression by repenting from their sins with fasting, prayer, burnt offerings, almsgiving, and wearing sackcloth and ashes. Fasting was required in Jewish Law only on the Day of Atonement, but the practice soon became linked to penance, reparation, and the resolution to embrace the teachings of the prophets. (CCC 2629)
Ch 5:1-24 Achior, King of the Ammonites, offered to teach Holofernes about the uniqueness of Israelite history. He explained that Israel’s survival and prosperity throughout history was due to divine intervention more than military might. Holofernes and his men summarily ignored the special predilection God had for Israel. (CCC 201, 762)
Proverbs 16:33 This proverb is illustrated in the Acts of the Apostles when the Apostles cast lots to select a replacement for Judas: they prayed to the Lord and trusted that the lots would fall in favor of the man chosen by God (cf. Acts 1:24-26). Reflecting the spirit of the early Church, the College of Cardinals gather to elect a new Pope, praying to the Holy Spirit that they might be conduits of God’s choice. (CCC 77, 1209, 1399, 1555, 1576)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Random observation as a medical professional: Fr. Mike sounds like he has incredible lung capacity…he is able to fit so many words and syllables into a single breath 🤓
Some of these Proverbs are just...well they are always GREAT
Proverbs 16:31, “A hoary head is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”
What’s a HOARY HEAD?
Well, HOARFROST is frost that is present on trees and it is WHITE
So to get GRAY HAIR is the CROWN OF GLORY! (so stay away from Just for Men hair coloring, all you wise men with your Crown of Glory!! And also you wise women with your Crown of Glory...I don’t know what coloring product women use for gray hair sorry... 😉)
So gray hair is the crown of glory gained in a righteous life
Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
MAN! (OH MAN!!)
THAT IS SO GOOD!!
Better the person who can RULE THEIR OWN SPIRIT than the one who TAKES A CITY
It is REALLY EASY to tell others what to do
It is REALLY EASY to know what they should do
It is DIFFICULT to know what we should do
It is EVEN MORE DIFFICULT to get ourselves to do that thing
MAN! (OH MAN!!)
What a GREAT GIFT to be able to RULE YOURSELF
To be able to SUBMIT YOURSELF
And to say, “Yup I submit to God’s Word.”
“I submit to God’s Will.”
“I submit to God’s Law.”
“I submit to the Law of Grace.”
Just an INCREDIBLE GIFT to be able to do
Jeremiah Chs 33 and 34 have SO MUCH GOODNESS IN HERE
The promise of God...remember that Jeremiah is still imprisoned
Jeremiah 33:1, “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard…’Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known.”
THIS IS GREAT!
“Jeremiah, you are in prison for not doing anything wrong. You simply said what I wanted you to say and now you are in prison. But I want you to know, call to me and I will answer you.”
Jeremiah is in prison
The city is still under siege
God has not removed the Babylonians
God has not set Jeremiah free
God is reminding him, “Call to me and I will answer you.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US!!
We heard it when it came to Daniel who prayed on behalf of the people and it took three weeks for the angel of the Lord to arrive (Would you like a refresher on what happened? Go read Day 243: The Lord’s Plans in the Bible in a Year Study Guide to be reminded of what happened 😁)
Just because God is QUIET does not mean he is ABSENT
Just because God is SILENT does not mean he is ABSENT
If it doesn’t seem like God HEARS, it does not mean God DOES NOT CARE
Here is God speaking to Jeremiah these POWERFUL WORDS
Jeremiah 33:9-11, “And this city shall be to me a name of joy…In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord…”
THIS IS SO GOOD!!
God is saying, “Yup, this place is a waste. This place is going to be destroyed. BUT...you are going to hear those sounds, those songs. You are going to hear those things again.”
Now Jeremiah Ch 33 also talks about The Messiah
Jeremiah 33:13, “..In the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them…”
Fr. Mike heard someone talk about how “The hand of one who counts them” is CODE for MESSIAH
Think about that
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
The shepherd counts the sheep as they pass by him
HE KNOWS EVERY ONE OF THEM
HE CALLS THEM BY NAME
HE COUNTS THEM
THEY ARE UNDER HIS HAND
Jeremiah 33:14, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”
IT WILL BE AN INCREDIBLE TIME
It talks about how David will be instituted
God says, “I will multiply the Levitical priests.”
There will be an ABUNDANCE of priests
They will offer a CONTINUAL SACRIFICE ALL OF THE TIME
It’s so interesting
There is a guy who has written a number of commentaries
He is so smart and knows so much of the Bible
He got to this verse and was perplexed
He didn’t know what it meant that there is an abundance of priests
He thought it must mean that God will do some priestly work in the Age of the Messiah
He didn’t know what that is
He isn’t Catholic
So here in Jeremiah Ch 33 God PROMISES and PROPHESIED, “There will be so many priests and they will offer continual sacrifice.”
For the LAST 2000 YEARS we have had this New Testament Priesthood
For the LAST 2000 YEARS we have had this New Covenant Priesthood
THE CHURCH HAS NOT CEASED TO OFFER UP SACRIFICE DAY AFTER DAY!!
IT IS JUST INCREDIBLE!!
How many has been the abundance of priests?
So here is Jeremiah Ch 33 FULFILLED IN OUR DAY
So Jeremiah Ch 34 Zedekiah will be carted off to Babylon
We might know this already from the end of 2 Kings
What is going to happen?
Nebuchadnezzar is going to come into Jerusalem and will murder Zedekiah’s sons in front of his very eyes
His eyes will then be gouged out
The last thing Zedekiah ever sees will be his sons murdered in front of him
Then he will be led to Babylon and will die
Jeremiah says, “You will die in peace.”
Meaning he won’t be killed by the sword
Maybe it was some sort of consolation
Because Zedekiah was not faithful
Then Jeremiah gives an example of how UNFAITHFUL Zedekiah was
Jeremiah 34:8, “...King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, that every one should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female…”
Everyone who was enslaved had to be set free
Now remember under the Mosaic Law you could have a slave for 6 years and then in the 7th year they HAD TO BE SET FREE
This was INDENTURED SERVITUDE NOT CHATTEL SLAVERY like we are familiar with here in the United States or in other countries in modern times (Do you remember when we read this? Go read Day 39: Slavery in The Old Testament and Day 65: Revolt Against Moses in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
It is the idea that you are in BANKRUPTCY (I DECLARE...BANKRUPTCYYYYYYY!!!!! 🤪) and there was NO BANKRUPTCY COURT
You don’t have anywhere else to turn
You can’t pay your restaurant bill, so wash some dishes
Similar thing, amplified for 6 years
“I can’t pay my debts so what can I do? Well, I’m going to go to work for this person for 6 years and I will be able to pay off my debts that way.”
At the same time, it was NEVER EVER intended to be FOR LIFE
God said, “Here’s the deal. Every seventh year you set them free. That covenant year. That Shabbat year. You have to set them free.”
BUT THEY WERE NOT DOING THIS
So Zedekiah says, “You know, we gotta listen to what God has said. We’re going to do what God has asked.”
So it LOOKS like they are repenting
They were not repenting because the moment Babylon turned some forces away from the gates to go fight some other battles, THEY TOOK THEIR SLAVES BACK
OH MY GOSH!!
THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED!!
That has NEVER happened in the history of Israel where they SET A SLAVE FREE AND THEN TOOK THEM BACK INTO SLAVERY
THEY WENT BACK ON THEIR WORD
THEY WENT BACK ON THAT GIFT OF LIBERTY
IT IS JUST CRAZY!!
So this is why God says, “Ok listen, you weren’t willing to proclaim liberty. I will proclaim liberty for you. Here is the liberty. I proclaim liberty to the sword. I proclaim liberty to pestilence and famine.”
Jeremiah 34:17, “...’You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, everyone to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, says the Lord.”
“YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DIE BY THE SWORD”
“YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DIE BY PESTILENCE”
“YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DIE BY FAMINE”
“BECAUSE YOU TOOK BACK THOSE SLAVES!”
Not only were they NOT REPENTING
They were LOOKING OUT FOR THEMSELVES
Remember, there was a siege going on in the city of Jerusalem
You’ll run out of food
You’ll run out of materials
But if you have a slave, you have to FEED AND TAKE CARE OF THEM
So it could be that Zedekiah said, “Hey, let’s set all the slaves free so that we don’t have to care for them.”
Far from this being an ACTUAL ACT OF REPENTANCE
This could actually be an ACT OF DEVIOUSNESS
AN ACT OF DECEPTION
TRYING TO GET OUT OF TROUBLE
BUT IT ENDS IN DISASTER
God says, “I’m bringing Babylon back and they are going to destroy your city. Your repentance was not real.”
Now onwards to Judith
Things are ramping up
The people of Israel ARE being faithful
They are saying, “We are genuinely going to come before the Lord.”
They almost sound like the Ninevites (Do you remember what happened? Go read Day 181: Jonah and the Whale in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a helpful reminder 😁)
When Jonah preached to the Ninevites and said, “Pretty soon, God is going to destroy Nineveh.”
EVERYONE PUT ON SACKCLOTH
EVERYONE PROCLAIMED A FAST WITH NO FOOD OR DRINK
EVERYONE COVERED THEMSELVES IN ASHES
That is what the people of Israel have done here as they learn that Nebuchadnezzar King of ASSYRIA (here in Judith, right? Of course) and Holofernes are on their way
They get ready to FIGHT BACK
They are getting ready to THROW DOWN
In Ch 8 we will be introduced to Judith who is one of the HEROINES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
GOSH YOU GUYS!!
Here we are taking EACH STEP FORWARD EACH SINGLE DAY
FR. MIKE IS SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU!!
FR. MIKE IS SO PROUD OF YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory as always. Gosh, Lord, every single day we praise you and we give you thanks. Help us to walk in your ways. Help us to belong to you. Help us to pick up our cross daily, and to follow after you daily, to deny ourselves daily, and to be yours every single day. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.”