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First Reading: Jeremiah Chapter 44 and 45 and 46

Jeremiah 44

44:1 This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt — in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis — and in Upper Egypt: 2 "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They provoked me to anger by burning incense and by worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your fathers ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, 'Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!' 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.
7 "Now this is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? 8 Why provoke me to anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and reproach among all the nations on earth. 9 Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your fathers and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? 10 To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your fathers.
11 "Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. 12 I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become an object of cursing and horror, of condemnation and reproach. 13 I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. 14 None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives."
15 Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present — a large assembly — and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, 16 "We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine."
19 The women added, "When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes like her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?"
20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, 21 "Did not the LORD remember and think about the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your fathers, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? 22 When the LORD could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became an object of cursing and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. 23 Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the LORD and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see."
24 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, "Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah in Egypt. 25 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have shown by your actions what you promised when you said, 'We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.'
"Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! 26 But hear the word of the LORD, all Jews living in Egypt: 'I swear by my great name,' says the LORD, 'that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, "As surely as the Sovereign LORD lives." 27 For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. 28 Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand — mine or theirs.
29 "'This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,' declares the LORD, 'so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.' 30 This is what the LORD says: 'I am going to hand Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt over to his enemies who seek his life, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who was seeking his life.'"

Jeremiah 45

45:1 This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating: 2 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, 'Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.'"
4[The LORD said,] "Say this to him: 'This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. 5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.'"

Jeremiah 46

46:1 This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations:
2 Concerning Egypt:
This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
3 "Prepare your shields, both large and small,and march out for battle! 4 Harness the horses,mount the steeds!Take your positions with helmets on!Polish your spears,put on your armor! 5 What do I see?They are terrified,they are retreating,their warriors are defeated.They flee in haste without looking back,and there is terror on every side," declares the LORD. 6 "The swift cannot flee nor the strong escape.In the north by the River Euphrates they stumble and fall.
7 "Who is this that rises like the Nile,like rivers of surging waters? 8 Egypt rises like the Nile,like rivers of surging waters.She says, 'I will rise and cover the earth;I will destroy cities and their people.' 9 Charge, O horses!Drive furiously, O charioteers!March on, O warriors — men of Cush and Put who carry shields,men of Lydia who draw the bow. 10 But that day belongs to the Lord, the LORD Almighty — a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.The sword will devour till it is satisfied,till it has quenched its thirst with blood.For the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will offer sacrifice in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.
11 "Go up to Gilead and get balm,O Virgin Daughter of Egypt.But you multiply remedies in vain;there is no healing for you. 12 The nations will hear of your shame;your cries will fill the earth.One warrior will stumble over another;both will fall down together."
13 This is the message the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt:
14 "Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol;proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes:'Take your positions and get ready,for the sword devours those around you.' 15 Why will your warriors be laid low?They cannot stand, for the LORD will push them down. 16 They will stumble repeatedly;they will fall over each other.They will say, 'Get up, let us go back to our own people and our native lands,away from the sword of the oppressor.' 17 There they will exclaim,'Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise;he has missed his opportunity.'
18 "As surely as I live," declares the King,whose name is the LORD Almighty,"one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains,like Carmel by the sea. 19 Pack your belongings for exile,you who live in Egypt,for Memphis will be laid waste and lie in ruins without inhabitant.
20 "Egypt is a beautiful heifer,but a gadfly is coming against her from the north. 21 The mercenaries in her ranks are like fattened calves.They too will turn and flee together,they will not stand their ground,for the day of disaster is coming upon them,the time for them to be punished. 22 Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent as the enemy advances in force;they will come against her with axes,like men who cut down trees. 23 They will chop down her forest," declares the LORD,"dense though it be.They are more numerous than locusts,they cannot be counted. 24 The Daughter of Egypt will be put to shame,handed over to the people of the north."
25 The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh. 26 I will hand them over to those who seek their lives, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past," declares the LORD.
27 "Do not fear, O Jacob my servant;do not be dismayed, O Israel.I will surely save you out of a distant place,your descendants from the land of their exile.Jacob will again have peace and security,and no one will make him afraid. 28 Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,for I am with you," declares the LORD."Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you,I will not completely destroy you.I will discipline you but only with justice;I will not let you go entirely unpunished."

Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 124 and 125

Psalms 124

124:1 A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side — let Israel say — 2 if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, 3 when their anger flared against us,they would have swallowed us alive; 4 the flood would have engulfed us,the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the LORD,who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare;the snare has been broken,and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalms 125

125:1 A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous,for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.
4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,to those who are upright in heart. 5 But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel.

Bible Background



Part 3 of 4


After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. If you follow the history you find that the Nation of Israel never again became the world power it was under Solomon. Ten of the tribes rebelled against Rehoboam and followed a man named Jeroboam, son of Nebat. Jeroboam, in order to strengthen his throne, made two idols, golden calves, and set one at the southern border in Bethel and the other at the northern border in Dan and proclaimed: "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."

The history of the northern ten tribes follows the lead of Jeroboam. None of the kings that followed served the living God even though prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea were sent by God in warning of coming destruction. Probably the most notorious of the Israeli kings was Ahab.

Ahab reigned for 22 years and it is recorded that "Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him." He married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. It was during this time that Elijah had the showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Even though God demonstrated his power and the priests of Baal were slain, Elijah had to run for his life from Jezebel.

Finally, in 722 B.C., 200 years after the time of Solomon, the northern kingdom was subdued and taken captive by the Assyrians. Chapter 17 of II Kings details the final captivity of this people.

The southern kingdom of Judah followed the line of Rehoboam. It lasted another 140 years. During this period of 340 years from Rehoboam to Zedekiah there were kings that worshipped and obeyed God but many that did not.

Some of the more notable kings of Judah included:

Asa reigned 41 years and because of his reforms and reliance on God, brought peace during his time.

Joash reigned 40 years and was only seven years old when he began to reign. Jehoiada the priest was his adviser and as long as Jehoiada lived Joash served the LORD. The temple was restored for it had fallen into disrepair. After Jehoiada died, Joash abandoned the temple and worshipped idols.

Hezekiah reigned 29 years. He brought in reforms again and had the temple purified and celebrated the Passover again. He was king in Judah at the time that the northern kingdom was taken into captivity. The city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army. Hezekiah prayed to the LORD and defied the Assyrians and the records report that 185,000 Assyrians died in the Assyrian camp in one night.

Manasseh reigned 55 years. He was the son of Hezekiah but totally opposite. He rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah had destroyed and erected altars to Baal and "to all the starry hosts." He sacrificed his sons in the fire and practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. He took a carved image he had made and placed it in God's temple.

Manasseh was taken prisoner by the King of Assyria and in his distress he finally turned to God. God heard his pleas and restored him to his kingdom. Manasseh broke down the idols and high places and removed the graven image from God's temple.

Prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah were sent to warn the Kingdom of Judah of coming destruction. The history of Judah is up and down with one king following idols and the next bringing reforms. Finally, in 586 B.C. Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

"By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!' How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?" Psalm 137

"And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.'"


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