Day 250: Final wave of exile

Jeremiah 39:1-18 Zedekiah tried to escape the city but was caught by the enemy; his family was slain and he was blinded. Jeremiah was released from captivity and was treated well by Nebuchadnezzar, and Ebed-melech was promised that he would not be harmed or exiled by the Babylonians.


Ch 40:1-16 Set free by the Babylonians, Jeremiah chose to live in Mizpah, where Gedaliah, the appointed governor, had made his headquarters amid rumors of his planned assassination. Some Jews who had fled the neighboring territories during the siege returned to live in Judah.


Judith 10:1-23 Adorning herself further before seeking out Holofernes with her maid, Judith enraptured the Assyrians with her beauty and pretended to be a traitor to Israel who would help the enemy win a swift victory.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


The Jewish Community in Jerusalem

  • What of those who remained in Jerusalem?

  • After the failed rebellion of Zedekiah, a man named Gedaliah is appointed governor of the cities of Judah by the Babylonian king.

  • Gedaliah rules from the small town of Mizpah.

  • He is not of Davidic descent, and he is subsequently assassinated by a plot of the royal family (who also exterminate other Jewish survivors at Mizpah and the Babylonian guards stationed there).

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)


  • Only 115 days left!

  • We are trucking through Jeremiah and Judith

  • Today we read about The Fall of Jerusalem

  • Lots of Ups

  • LOTS AND LOTS OF DOWNS

  • Let’s do this…

  • So it’s been a theme recently where Fr. Mike says something about Proverbs (No complaints here! 😉)

  • Proverbs 17:9, “He who forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter alienates a friend.”

  • That goes back to the SINS OF SPEECH

  • The ways in which ALL OF US need to GUARD OUR SPEECH

  • Some things DON’T NEED TO BE SAID

  • Some things DON’T NEED TO BE REPEATED

  • IN FACT…

  • Some words can actually DESTROY RELATIONSHIPS

  • THAT IS SO GOOD!

  • We have the difference between the WISE PERSON and the FOOL

  • Proverbs 17:10, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”

  • REBUKE!

  • Here’s a SMALL CORRECTION that goes deeper into a PERSON OF UNDERSTANDING

  • A PERSON WHO SEEKS WISDOM

  • A PERSON WHO WANTS TO DO RIGHT

  • Than a hundred blows into a fool

  • GOSH!

  • Think of the ways in which we have read The Book of Jeremiah

  • BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING NOW

  • Jeremiah has been preaching for FORTY-PLUS YEARS that Jerusalem is GOING TO FALL

  • They were SUPPOSED TO surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar

  • NO ONE LISTENED

  • And so now what happens is there are a hundred blows upon those who would not listen

  • So the people of Israel are being DECIMATED AND DESTROYED

  • Jeremiah Ch 39 is KEY in this book because it is SO KEY for the history of Israel

  • THIS IS THE FINAL WAVE OF DESTRUCTION

  • THIS IS THE FINAL WAVE OF EXILE

  • Nebuchadnezzar and his troops are surrounding Jerusalem

  • They left for a bit before when they went to fight the armies of Egypt

  • BUT THEY CAME BACK

  • These leaders, princes of Babylon show up

  • Jeremiah 39:3, “When Jerusalem was taken, all the princes of the king of Babylon came and sat in the middle gate.”

  • We have some fun names like Nergal Sharezer which reminds Fr. Mike of Pokemon for whatever reason (I’m not sure what Pokemon is...sounds like some sort of sea creature or something 🤪)

  • Samgar Nebo

  • Sarsechim the Rabsaris

  • Nergal Sharezer the Rab Mag (these all sound like Dungeons and Dragons names to me 🤔)

  • What do they do?

  • They park themselves at the middle gate

  • What does that mean?

  • It’s kind of like someone invaded Washington D.C. and they walked into the Oval Office of the White House and sat behind the Resolute Desk and put their feet up (Just like General Zod basically did in Superman II 🤓)

  • That’s what these princes of Babylon are doing

  • As they sit in the middle gate they are basically saying, “Yeah this is the place of trade. This is the place of coming and going. This is the place where decisions are made. This is the heart of the city of Jerusalem in a political secular way.”

  • So they’re camping themselves out there

  • Now we have King Zedekiah who was WEAK

  • He was such a FICKLE PERSON

  • We heard yesterday that he had gone to Jeremiah and said, “Tell me PRIVATELY the Word of the Lord.”

  • Jeremiah even says, “I have told you PUBLICLY SO MANY TIMES and you never listened to me. But ok I’ll tell you privately.”

  • Then King Zedekiah says, “Ok don’t tell anyone what you told me.”

  • So Jeremiah says, “Ok. Fine.”

  • Zedekiah doesn’t even take a stand against Nebuchadnezzar

  • For YEARS Zedekiah kept saying, “No we’re gonna fight against Nebuchadnezzar.”

  • Even though Jeremiah was saying, “No! Surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and you will live! Surrender and he will let you live in peace and God will do something in this that is going to be great.”

  • But Zedekiah keeps saying, “No we’re going to fight.”

  • So what happens?

  • When Nebuchadnezzar and his armies come against Jerusalem, Zedekiah FLEES

  • They catch him on the plains of Jericho, about 15-20 miles from Jerusalem

  • They bring him up to Riblah

  • And Nebuchadnezzar kills Zedekiah’s sons right in front of his eyes

  • Then Nebuchadnezzar gouges out the eyes of Zedekiah so that the last thing he sees is the death of his sons

  • This reveals a number of things

  • But one of the things it reveals is that Nebuchadnezzar is a PRETTY BRUTAL GUY

  • THIS WAS A BRUTAL TIME

  • As we’ve been journeying through The Bible this year, we come to realize that the Bible stories are INCREDIBLY VIOLENT

  • The people are INCREDIBLY BRUTAL

  • THEY WERE LIVING IN BRUTAL TIMES

  • This is a part of that story of brutality

  • Here is Nebuchadnezzar who gouges out the king’s eyes and then carting him off to Babylon

  • At the same time, we have Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard who is going to play a role

  • Jeremiah has been on the side of the Jewish people

  • BUT…

  • From Nebuchadnezzar’s perspective, Jeremiah has been his pal

  • Because Jeremiah has been saying for years and years, “Surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.”

  • So Nebuzaradan recognizes something in Jeremiah

  • He even recognizes something in the God of Israel

  • Nebuzaradan says, “I want to give you a choice. If you would come with me to Babylon, I will make sure that you live comfortably and are taken care of. So please come with me to Babylon. But if you want to, you can stay here in Jerusalem and I will give you a gift of provisions.”

  • So Jeremiah has a choice to make

  • He can go into exile and be taken care of

  • OR…

  • He can stay in Jerusalem and live off TRUSTING IN THE LORD

  • Think about this recognition of TRUSTING IN THE LORD AND HOW KEY IT IS

  • There is a story here in Jeremiah Ch 39 of Ebed-melech

  • He was the person who interceded on behalf of Jeremiah who was sinking in the mire in the cistern

  • What happens?

  • There is this gift that is given to Ebed-melech by the Word of the Lord that God speaks through Jeremiah, “I will deliver you on that day. There is destruction coming still, but I will deliver you, Ebed-melech”

  • Ebed-melech was Ethiopian

  • He wasn’t necessarily a Jew

  • IN FACT…

  • He was called a EUNUCH

  • In many ways, eunuchs were not allowed to participate fully in the worship in the Temple

  • But God says to Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian eunuch in Jeremiah 39:17, “But I will deliver you on that day, says the Lord, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, says the Lord.”

  • THIS IS SO CRITICAL FOR EVERY ONE OF US

  • TO HEAR

  • TO UNDERSTAND

  • TO INTERIORIZE

  • It is NOT because Ebed-melech was a GREAT HERO

  • It is NOT because Ebed-melech was PERFECT

  • It is NOT because his body was fully intact...he was a eunuch...he may or may not have been castrated....sometimes a eunuch was just someone who worked in the king’s court...sometimes it meant he was castrated…

  • BUT…

  • NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTERED WHEN IT COMES TO THIS PROMISE OF GOD

  • God says, “I am going to deliver you from the people of whom you are afraid.”

  • WHY?

  • “Because you put your trust in me.”

  • There is something SO POWERFUL that we just need to INTERIORIZE

  • “Ok, Lord. That is what you are calling me to do, to live in your Will. To simply trust you each moment and each day of my life. To do your Will even when I don’t understand it. But to be able to say, ‘THY WILL BE DONE.’”

  • We have this model in JESUS

  • Jesus says, “Father, let this cup pass from me but not my will, but YOUR WILL BE DONE.”

  • Speaking of God’s Will being done…

  • It is Jeremiah Ch 40 where Jeremiah is given the choice

  • Nebuzaradan says, “Ok, what do you want to do? Do you want to go to Babylon or do you want to stay here with Gedaliah?”

  • It is important for us to understand who Gedaliah is

  • He was appointed as GOVERNOR

  • Nebuchadnezzar was DONE with letting Israel have kings

  • So he appoints Gedaliah as governor of the remnants in Jerusalem i.e. the poor, weak, and lame, and all the others he did not want to bring to Babylon

  • But also the people who lived in the hills

  • These people are kind of rebels who did not surrender but fled to the hills to be like resistance fighters

  • Jeremiah has this prayer and he has to ask God, “What do you want? Should I go to Babylon or stay in Jerusalem?”

  • Jeremiah chooses to stay in Jerusalem

  • At the end of Jeremiah Ch 40 we are introduced to Ishmael, son of Nethaniah

  • Ishmael is one of those resistance fighters that lives in the hills

  • Johanan comes to Gedaliah and says, “Listen, Ishamel the son of Nethaniah is going to kill you.”

  • Instead of guarding himself and believing this, Gedaliah says, “Nah! He’s not going to do that!”

  • We will see what happens tomorrow

  • Now on to The Book of Judith

  • We see the WISDOM OF JUDITH

  • BUT ALSO…

  • Here beauty is also referred to quite a few times

  • Judith proposes her plan to Holofernes

  • This plan is so rooted in her Jewish faith and it is REMARKABLE

  • Judith says, “Listen, God will fight for us. When Achior spoke to you, he was not lying. He was telling the truth. As long as we are faithful to the Lord God, There is no one who can defeat us. But here is what is going to happen. We are not going to be faithful to him pretty soon because the people of my city, Bethuliah, are not going to give their first fruits to the Lord. They are going to eat their first fruits themselves. And then you will know that the Lord God will not fight for them anymore.”

  • So Holofernes thinks this is a great plan

  • We will see how that will unfold over the next couple of days

  • We have two more days with The Book of Judith

  • Then we will move on to The Book of Lamentations

  • The Book of Lamentations is what Jeremiah saw during the siege of Jerusalem

  • GOSH!

  • Jeremiah Ch 39 is basically like, “There was this siege and then Jerusalem fell and then they came in and sat at the gates.”

  • BUT…

  • In The Book of Lamentations, Jeremiah gives us this INCREDIBLY TRAGIC PICTURE of what life was like during that siege

  • We will hit that three days from now

  • BUT…

  • TODAY, FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE

  • PRAY FOR EACH OTHER


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. God in Heaven, we thank you so much. You are the Lord of Heaven and Earth. You are Lord of ALL. You are Lord of EVERYTHING. And we know that you are also the Lord of our stories. We know that you are the Lord of history. And that also means that you are the Lord of our history. You are the Lord of our past. You are the Lord of our future. And, Lord God, you are the Lord of our present. At this moment, we place ourselves under your dominion. We place ourselves under your lordship, under your kingship, under your guidance, under your will, under your rule, under you. Because we can trust in you. And so we do. We trust in you today and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”