Day 257: Choose to Love

Jeremiah 52:1-34 This book ends with a narrative about the conquest of Jerusalem that was lifted almost verbatim from the Second Book of Kings (cf. 24:18-25:30). According to this passage, there was a third exile of the people of Judah to Babylon around 582 BC. The book ends on a positive note with the accession of Evil-merodach to the throne of Babylon and his compassionate release and honorable treatment of King Jehoiacin of Judah.


The Book of Obadiah

Author and Date:

  • The shortest book of the Old Testament, Obadiah is identified in Jewish tradition as a palace steward in Israel during the reign of King Ahab, who ruled in the ninth century BC.

  • Scholars, however, believe the core writing of the book dates from the late sixth to early fourth century BC, sometime after the Babylonian Exile.


Audience:

  • The brief message of Obadiah is consistent with the prophetic and apocalyptic encouragement given to Jews of the post-exilic period when they were still subjects of foreign powers.


Main Themes:

  • Obadiah’s oracle is against Edom, which was a kingdom to the south of Judah.

  • Edom, however, serves as a metaphor for all the nations that had oppressed or opposed Israel.

  • The Edomites had refused the Israelites passage into the Promised Land when they first arrived to the region and later battled with the armies of King Saul and King David.

  • Later, when the Babylonians were laying waste to Judah and Jerusalem, the Edomites participated in the conquest and plundered the land.

  • The overall theme is a familiar prophetic-apocalyptic message: In the end, the sovereign God will triumph, vanquishing the enemies who perpetuate injustice and restoring a united Israel.

  • Obadiah called for perseverance and trust in God during even the most troubling and seemingly hopeless of times.


Obadiah 1:1-21 Obadiah presents a scathing condemnation of Edom. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, son of Isaac and the twin brother of Jacob (Israel). Though they enjoyed a mostly peaceful but uncomfortable coexistence with Judah, they did not look upon each other as friends. Obadiah criticized them here for taking advantage of Judah’s defeat at the hands of the Babylonians by claiming large portions of Judah and plundering its cities and villages. The prophet recounts a list of sins in ascending order that will all result in punishment. The enumeration of lesser sins demonstrates how they can lead to more serious transgressions. As in previous prophecies, these verses predict the defeat of the forces of evil and the restoration of a remnant of Israel. The mention of “saviors” ruling Mount Zion and Mount Esau has been interpreted by St. Augustine and others to point to the conversion of Gentiles, symbolized here by the reconciliation of the descendants of Jacob and Esau.


Day of the Lord: The final judgment will involve the reward of the just and the punishment of unrepentant doers of evil. (CCC 1041)

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


Exile and Return

  • The story of exile, along with the deep desire for return experienced by those exiled, is one replayed throughout salvation history.

  • From the Fall, when Adam and Eve are exiled from the Garden of Eden, to the experience of exile and return that characterizes the lives of Abraham, Moses, and David, to the great and terrible experience of exile and return suffered during the Babylonian captivity, the story of a home lost and regained ia a prominent theme chronicled throughout the Old Testament.

  • This theme is reflected in the New Testament as well, from the story of the Prodigal Son, who experiences his own exile and return, even to Jesus himself, who is exiled beyond the city walls to die on the cross, only to return in glory.

  • With his death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of his Spirit, Jesus reverses the pattern of exile that began with Adam and Eve, ending humanity’s long exile from the Presence of God.

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


  • GOSH!! WE HAVE MADE IT TO THE END OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH!!

  • WELL DONE!!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!!

  • YOU CRUSHED IT!!

  • YOU DID WELL!!

  • This last piece of Jeremiah almost goes back to the narrative

  • We heard a bunch of words of condemnation against Babylon and the other nations like the Ammonites and Philistines

  • Now we have the END STORY

  • You may have noticed that Nebuchadnezzar’s name is a bit different now and it is Nebuchadrezzar

  • IT’S THE SAME GUY DON’T WORRY!! (You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to...No I don’t but I’m just illustrating a point 😉)

  • In some places it is Nebuchadnezzar

  • In other places it is Nebuchadrezzar

  • Fr. Mike was reminded about something

  • We have been reading Jeremiah and there has NOT BEEN ONE REFERENCE TO BULLFROGS!! (For our international brothers and sisters, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…” is the opening line to the song JOY TO THE WORLD by Three Dog Night Three Dog Night-Joy To The World-Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog🎸😁)

  • So now we are at the conclusion of the entire siege of Jerusalem

  • King Zedekiah is captured after running away

  • The final people were being carted off to Babylon

  • The people of Jerusalem have been besieged and suffering for so long

  • There is no food

  • Everyone was suffering, including Zedekiah

  • BUT…

  • The people DO NOT get the chance to RUN AWAY

  • Zedekiah DOES run away

  • He reveals his CHARACTER

  • A lot of us would probably run if we had the chance

  • BUT REMEMBER…

  • Zedekiah had the opportunity to NOT MAKE HIMSELF AN ENEMY to Nebuchadnezzar

  • Zedekiah had the opportunity to LISTEN TO JEREMIAH AND SURRENDER

  • What would have happened then?

  • Probably the same thing as King Jehoiachin

  • Jehoiachin was arrested and put in prison

  • BUT…

  • HIS WHOLE FAMILY WAS NOT DESTROYED

  • Since Zedekiah not only rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar

  • HE ALSO RAN

  • So we get some insight into his character

  • THERE IS A TIME TO STAND AND FIGHT

  • THERE IS A TIME TO SURRENDER

  • And it seems like Zedekiah never knew when he was supposed to do what he was supposed to do

  • He has a tragic end, seeing his sons killed in front of his own eyes and then having those eyes plucked out

  • We also have the story of Jerusalem being plundered

  • This will be INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT after our next Messianic Checkpoint

  • We will have the books of Ezra and Nehemiah

  • We will hear about the exiles RETURN TO JERUSALEM

  • Nebuzaradan burns down the Temple, the House of God

  • He also burns down all of the great houses

  • He also goes and knocks down all the walls of Jerusalem

  • This is going to be REALLY IMPORTANT

  • When the exiles come back after 70 years, they will need to REBUILD THE WALLS

  • There will be some drama about that

  • They are going to need to rebuild houses

  • They will also need to rebuild the House of the Lord

  • They are going to struggle with all of these rebuilding projects

  • Remember, this was the Temple of Solomon

  • MASSIVE BRONZE

  • MASSIVE SILVER

  • MASSIVE GOLD

  • A lot of it gets carted off and taken to Babylon

  • Some of it will make its way back, which is great

  • BUT…

  • This incredible, impressive Temple is going to be reduced to rubble now

  • And when it gets rebuilt, it will be a shadow of its former self

  • So keep that in mind when we move forward in the Return Era and the Maccabean Revolt

  • King Jehoiachin of Judah is one of the captives taken to Babylon

  • So the Line of David is STILL ALIVE

  • A lot of the princes of Judah were slain

  • BUT KING JEHOIACHIN IS STILL ALIVE

  • One of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar/Nebuchadrezzar is Evil-merodach

  • After 37 years of being in prison, he hears about King Jehoiachin and sets him free from prison

  • He gives him a place at his own table

  • Jehoiachin is blessed until the day he dies

  • He is given an allowance

  • Even though he is in exile, he is given a certain degree of freedom

  • There is this LAST NOTE OF HOPE in The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

  • EVEN IN EXILE

  • AFTER 37 YEARS OF CAPTIVITY

  • Think about this….

  • This is someone’s lifetime

  • If you live to be 40 years old, that is how long Jehoiachin was imprisoned and suffering for his own crimes, for the crimes of the people

  • Then he was lifted out of that prison

  • We see in this a CERTAIN JUSTICE when it comes to Jehoiahin who was NOT A GOOD PERSON

  • In some ways, he had to pay for his crimes

  • When that payment is over, HE IS RESTORED

  • For all of us as Christians, we know that WE do not pay for the ETERNAL PRICE of our sins

  • JESUS IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN POSSIBLY DO THAT

  • JESUS HAS DONE THAT

  • AND YET…

  • There are CONSEQUENCES in all of our lives to OUR DECISIONS

  • So we come before the Lord and realize, “Ok God, I can be in prison and you still love me. I can not be at the king’s table and you still love me. I can be in this place where I am experiencing the consequences of my actions, the consequences of my choices, but that doesn’t mean that you have abandoned me.”

  • Here is Jehoiachin after 37 years who is lifted out of prison by the Lord God through King Evil-merodach and is given a place at the king’s table

  • Ask the Lord, “What is that God? What is it that you are telling us about us in the story of Jehoiachin?”

  • Now on to The Book of Obadiah

  • This book is one chapter long, the shortest book in the Old Testament

  • So who is Obadiah talking to when he is talking to the Edomites?

  • This goes all the way back to Genesis

  • THIS IS REMARKABLE!!

  • You know this story of the sons of Isaac (Would you like a refresher? Go back and read Day 17: Jacob Meets Esau in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁 You can even go back and read Day 13: Esau Sells His Birthright and Day 14: Isaac Blesses Jacob as well!!)

  • They were twin boys, Jacob/Israel and Esau

  • Jacob convinced Esau to trade his birthright for some PORRIDGE!!

  • Later on he tricked their father Isaac out of the blessing

  • So even though Jacob/Israel and Esau reconciled personally, the people of Israel and the people of Esau (Edomites) had a “sibling rivalry”

  • God still wanted to bless the Edomites

  • And just like the Israelites, just like all of us, turned away from FAITHFULNESS TO THE LORD

  • The Edomites are grandchildren of Abraham, just like the Israelites

  • AND YET...

  • Obadiah points out the fact that when the Israelites were under attack the Edomites, basically their cousins, DID NOTHING

  • When the Babylonians destroyed Judah and the Assyrians destroyed Israel, the Edomites were REJOICED

  • THEY WERE NOT IN DISTRESS

  • THEY DID NOT MOURN

  • THEY DID NOT COME TO THE AID OF THEIR BROTHERS IN JUDAH

  • So because of this God says through Obadiah, “Because you have not come to the aid of your brothers, the people, MY OWN PEOPLE, your brothers and sisters, because of that you are going to be destroyed yourselves.”

  • The striking thing about this is not just the historical reality of the people of Edom who were destroyed by the Babylonians

  • BUT…

  • It is also the way in which how EASY IT IS FOR FAMILIES TO JUST DRIFT APART

  • Yeah, maybe Jacob and Esau reconciled personally

  • THAT IS BEAUTIFUL

  • THAT IS POWERFUL

  • THAT IS INCREDIBLE

  • BUT…

  • Almost always it takes a DEEPER KIND OF HEALING and a DEEPER INTENTIONALITY for FAMILY TO STAY FAMILY

  • IT IS EASIER TO DRIFT APART

  • Maybe that’s fine in some cases

  • Maybe that’s just what happens in some cases

  • BUT…

  • MAYBE THAT IS NOT WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN

  • MAYBE what SHOULD happen is that we say, “We are family so we are going to CHOOSE TO LOVE EACH OTHER.”

  • Well, Edom and Israel did not make that choice and it came with a price

  • It’s so easy to say that we have to CHOOSE TO LOVE EACH OTHER AS FAMILY

  • And it is SO DIFFICULT to actually do that

  • Fr. Mike is not telling YOU what to do

  • Fr. Mike is noting what HE has to do

  • Fr. Mike is CHALLENGED TO CHOOSE TO LOVE

  • Maybe ALL OF US are CHALLENGED TO CHOOSE TO LOVE

  • Who is it in your life TODAY that you are being CHALLENGED BY THE LORD GOD TO CHOOSE TO LOVE

  • MOST LIKELY THEY ARE CLOSER THAN WE THINK

  • SO WE NEED GOD’S GRACE

  • IN ORDER TO LOVE WE NEED TO RECEIVE GOD’S LOVE FIRST

  • 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 for bringing us to this day. Thank you for the gift of your love that is so easy to take for granted. Thank you for the gift of knowing your identity, and knowing that you are our Father. And that what breaks our hearts breaks your heart. And what you have made us for is more than we can ever possibly imagine, dream of, or hope for. So help us, Lord. Help us to choose what you have made us for. Help us to be the kind of people that you created and redeemed us to be. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”