Saturday, October 11, 2014
This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.
Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!
The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)
Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.
Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!
Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.
The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?
Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.
Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.
The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.
I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.
So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.
But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.
So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.
So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.
So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.
For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml