Day 256: Hard seasons
Jeremiah 51:1-44 Continuing the image of the hammer, God said through Jeremiah that he used Babylon as his hammer, his instrument for inflicting punishment. The destruction of the Temple would lead to a resounding defeat of the Babylonians on the part of the Medes and other forces from the north. Ultimately, the Persians overthrew Babylon.
Ch 51:45-58 Turning to the exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah assured them that God would punish the Babylonians eventually for their injustices and that the Jewish people would return to Judah.
Ch 51:59-64 This brief passage is an account of a letter sent from Jeremiah to the Babylonians warning them of their impending destruction.
Lamentations 4:1-22 A terrible famine added to the misery of the people after the fall of Jerusalem. This dire situation caused the people to suffer a grinding poverty and to live in squalor. Moreover, those in exile suffered over the absence of a homeland.
Ch 4:20 This verse has sometimes been interpreted as a Christological prophecy. Origen saw the “shadow” as an image, or symbol of the Incarnation. St. Irenaeus interpreted the same word as referring to Christ’s Body, battered and bruised, in his Passion and Death.
Ch 5:1-22 The fifth and final lament is a heartfelt prayer for God’s mercy and the deliverance of his suffering people. These verses describe Jerusalem as a land without joy, affected by lawlessness and chaos.
Ch 5:21 Restore us...as of old: Conversion is always the result of grace in concert with good will. Only through the grace of God can a person be moved to repentance and conversion to a life of committed holiness. The contemplation of God’s immense love cultivates sorrow for sin and the subsequent eagerness to embrace God’s will and Commandments. (CCC 1432)
Jeremiah is one of the longest chapters in the longest book of The Bible
We finish Lamentations today!
GOSH YOU GUYS!
We have one more Chapter 52 in Jeremiah tomorrow
So what do we have TODAY in Jeremiah Ch 51?
Essentially, we have the ULTIMATE CONDEMNATION of Babylon
In roughly 100 days or so from now, we will get to The Book of Revelation Chs 17 and 18
These chapters talk about an ULTIMATE BABYLON
Whenever there is a PROPHECY, there is always an IMMEDIATE fulfillment of the prophecy and there is a DISTANT fulfillment of the prophecy
The IMMEDIATE fulfillment has already come true in Jeremiah
The Medo-Persian Empire came against Babylon
God used Babylon to bring his judgment on his people
NOT because Babylon was GOOD
NOT because Nebuchadnezzar was GOOD
Babylon was NOT GOOD
Nebuchadnezzar was NOT GOOD
There is a sense we have talked about before
THE PERMISSIVE WILL OF GOD
THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD
God’s PERFECT WILL is that we DO NOT SIN
God’s PERFECT WILL is for us to LIVE IN HOLINESS
God’s PERFECT WILL is DESTINY FOR US
God’s PERFECT WILL is that he wants us to LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM
Wisdom 1:13, “Because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living…”
You are going to LOVE The Book of Wisdom 😁
It’s coming in a little bit
First we have a Messianic Checkpoint
Then we have The Return
Then we have the Maccabean Revolt
And in the course of THAT era we will hear The Book of Wisdom
Wisdom 1:13-14, “Because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist.”
So God’s PERFECT WILL for us is that WE HAVE LIFE
NOT JUST LIFE IN THIS WORLD!!!
BUT ETERNAL LIFE!!
God’s PERMISSIVE WILL is what He ALLOWS to happen because of our OWN FREE WILL
God’s PERMISSIVE WILL is what He ALLOWS to happen because He knows that He can BRING ABOUT A GREATER GOOD
God’s PERMISSIVE WILL is what a lot of us experience on a day to day basis
This is what the people of Israel experience with the Babylonians
This is what the people of Jerusalem experience with the Babylonians
This is what the people of Judah experience with the Babylonians
Just because God is WILLING to use people or kingdoms, even kings, to bring about his judgment DOES NOT MEAN THAT THOSE KINGS OR KINGDOMS ARE JUST
GOD IS JUST
So the JUST RULING, of course, is that Babylon, which was SO EVIL and sought to destroy the people of Israel, would be DESTROYED THEMSELVES AND NEVER RISE AGAIN
If you want PROOF about how Babylon was we got to the conclusion of Lamentations Chs 4 and 5
Can you imagine the things described in Lamentations Ch 4?
Lamentations 4:4, “The tongue of the infant clings to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives to them.”
THIS IS JUST HORRIBLE!!
It goes on to talk about people who used to be WEALTHY and they have FALLEN
People who used to be IMPORTANT and they are NOT RECOGNIZED
Because of the reality that everyone in Jerusalem is SUFFERING
This is what SUFFERING does to us
SUFFERING HAS THE ABILITY TO CHANGE HEARTS
SUFFERING HAS THE ABILITY TO REFORM US
SUFFERING HAS THE ABILITY TO PURIFY US AND MAKE US BETTER
SUFFERING ALSO HAS THE ABILITY TO REVEAL THE DARKNESS AND BROKENNESS OF OUR OWN HEARTS
Lamentations 4:10, “The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.”
That is one of the WORST VERSES in the ENTIRE BIBLE!!
EVEN GOOD WOMEN
HERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE
The historian Josephus writes about the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and later on the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans
Something similar happened there
Sometimes suffering and desperation can lead us to do things we NEVER IMAGINED WE WOULD EVER POSSIBLY DO
That’s why we continue to PRAY
PRAY FOR STRENGTH
PRAY THAT WE MIGHT BE SPARED THOSE KINDS OF TIMES
PRAY THAT WE MIGHT BE SPARED THOSE KINDS OF SEASONS
PRAY THAT WE MIGHT BE SPARED THAT KIND OF AGE
Where we realize, “Ok God, I have the potential to do the UNIMAGINABLE. So please SPARE ME. Spare me from that. Not because that means I’m stronger. But because I don’t EVER EVER want to do something SO HORRIBLE. But we recognize in our hearts what we read there in Lamentations 4:10. That even GOOD PEOPLE resorted to CANNIBALISM in their desperation.”
I don’t know about you, but Fr. Mike knows for himself that there are so many times where a situation happens or his own brokenness comes to the surface and he realizes that he chose to do something that he would NEVER WANT TO CHOOSE TO DO IN A MILLION YEARS
So we can decide to say, “Well that’s who I am. I guess I’m no good. I guess I’m THAT BROKEN.”
I can say, “Ok, that’s the truth. That’s the truth of my heart. It’s that I’m WILLING to do that.”
BUT HERE IS THE TRUTH OF GOD’S HEART...
God declares, “Yup. I already knew this. I already knew that that was in you. And I already knew that that is what you are capable of.”
Maybe even in God’s OMNISCIENCE, God says, “I already knew that that was what you are going to do.”
God says, “In that, I also CHOSE to GIVE UP MYSELF. I CHOSE to live in this Earth as someone who is POOR, to SUFFER, to DIE, to RISE FROM THE DEAD, FOR YOU, this person that JUST DISCOVERED that you are BROKEN. I have known you are broken FOR ETERNITY.” 🤯🤯🤯
EVEN KNOWING THAT…
HERE IS GOD…
WHO HAS CHOSEN TO DIE FOR US
WHO HAS CHOSEN TO LIVE FOR US
WHO HAS CHOSEN TO GIVE US HIMSELF
WHICH IS REMARKABLE!!
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
That’s one of the reasons why EVEN The Book of Lamentations ENDS WITH HOPE
Even The Book of Lamentations ends with a DECLARATION OF TRUST
When Fr. Mike says the book ends with HOPE, keep in mind that Jeremiah is STILL TALKING TO GOD
He’s not saying, “But it’s all going to be ok.”
Actually Lamentations Ch 5 does not indicate in any way that things are going to be ok
Lamentations Ch 5 ends with a series of questions
Lamentations 5:20, “Why do you forget us forever, why do you so long forsake us?”
Lamentations 5:22, “Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you exceedingly angry with us?”
Jeremiah still ends The Book of Lamentations WITH HOPE
BECAUSE HE DOES NOT STOP TALKING TO GOD!!
Jeremiah is HEARTBROKEN
HIS BODY IS BROKEN
Maybe even his SPIRIT IS BROKEN IN SO MANY WAYS
HIS HOPE HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN AWAY
THAT IS THE TRUTH FOR ALL OF US!!
EVEN IN THE WORST SEASON IF WE JUST KEEP TALKING TO GOD
WE MIGHT BE DESPERATE
WE MIGHT BE DESOLATE
WE COULD BE AS JEREMIAH WAS, WEEPING CEASELESSLY
AS LONG AS WE ARE TALKING TO GOD IT MEANS THAT WE STILL HAVE HOPE
My BROTHERS, my FRIENDS, my SISTERS…
NEVER STOP TALKING TO GOD
NEVER STOP LETTING GOD TALK TO YOU
THROUGH HIS SCRIPTURE
THROUGH HIS CHURCH
IN YOUR PRAYER
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU FOR THAT DAY IN YOUR LIFE
MAYBE EVERYTHING ELSE WILL BE LOST EXCEPT FOR THAT HOPE
THAT WILLINGNESS TO STILL TALK TO THE FATHER AND TO STILL LET THE FATHER SPEAK TO YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you so much. Gosh, Lord God, thank you. Thank you for bringing us to this day. Thank you for bringing us almost all the way through The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. And thank you for bringing us through this book of The Lamentations of Jeremiah. Lord God, just like when we walked with Job, our friend, like when we walked with Tobit, like when we walked with all the people who suffered so much and they cried out to you that their suffering was real. Their suffering was profound. And yet they didn’t trust in you. Lord God, please help us that when our suffering is real that we don’t stop trusting you. That when it seems like you have abandoned us that we can see the truth and we can know the truth and we can live in that truth. That truth that you’ve never abandoned us, but we have abandoned you. So bring us back. Bring us back to you, Lord God, this day and every day so that we can live in the Eternal Day, that Great Day, in your Presence and in your Power. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”