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Posts Tagged ‘exile’


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Francois Xavier Fabre: Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah's Children Killed before his Eyes

Francois Xavier Fabre: Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah’s Children Killed before his Eyes

Jeremiah 34

Face to Face

Many of us shrink from speaking openly in conflict or disagreement, or to anyone with whom there is a potential for argument. We avoid situations that may cause us discomfort when we speak or hear truth. Today the Lord foretells Zedekiah’s difficult future. And it is news that the last king of Judah does not want to receive.

I am handing this city [Jerusalem] over to the king of Babylon; he will destroy it with fire. Neither shall you escape his hand; rather you will be captured and fall into his hands. You shall see the king of Babylon and speak to him face to face. Then you shall be taken to Babylon.

How might we react if we were to know the details of the last years of our lives? What might we do differently? What fences might we mend and with whom might we reconcile?

How do feel about confronting a grave illness, a sudden job loss, an unexpected death? We so often put reality aside until we can interact with it face to face.

Zedekiah is given an opportunity to experience exile in a semi-dignified way but he reneges on his part of the bargain. Zedekiah made an agreement with all the people in Jerusalem to issue an edict of emancipation. Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, male and female. All the princes and leaders consented . . . But though they agreed and freed them, afterward they took back their male and female slaves whom they had set free and forced them into service again.

If we want to know about Zedekiah’s last days, we can turn to 2 Kings 25 or click on the image above. The story is horrific, especially when we know that a merciful God had prepared a smoother way. The story is tragic, especially when we see that he suffers a fate he had parsed out to others. The story is cautionary, especially when we come to understand that God wants nothing more than to ease our burden.

Within each of us is the potential to become a new Zedekiah, one who has much and who sacrifices all. Also within is the latent slave who exults in freedom only to be brought back into bondage. Zedekiah retreats from a face to face encounter with the conquering king only to lose his progeny and his sight. Zedekiah plots the oppression of innocents and ends his days suffering in a way he had never imagined.

When the Lord asks us to come face to face with a person or an event that stirs fear within us, when God calls us to someone or some thing for which we feel only dread . . . let us consider the story of Zedekiah, and determine to rely on God’s company as we stand toe to toe with our fears.


For more on Zedekiah’s fate, click on the image above or visit: http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_Daniel/commentary/htm/0209030405.htm

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Monday, August 30, 2021

The Old Temple Housing the Old Covenant

The Old Temple Housing the Old Covenant

Jeremiah 31:21-40

Good News!

Watered gardens, priests with souls of abundance, shouts of joy, radiance at the generosity of the Lord, new wine and new oil, virgins dancing, old and young men rejoicing together, return from the land of the enemy. Surely all will rejoice with this good news!

Set up road marks, place guideposts, turn and return to God.

Days are coming when the Lord will write a new covenant on our hearts rather than on tablets of stone in the desert. I will be their God and they will be my people. There will be no need for instruction each to his neighbor for all will know the Lord.

Days are coming and indeed, they are already here. We have every reason to rejoice!

covenant_black+on+redThis is the Good News of the Return from Exile. It is the description of The Road we must travel. It is the reminder that there is An End to Our Mourning. It is The Summons Home. It is the Certainty of God’s Promise. And it is the prediction of the Rebuilding of Jerusalem.

We are a people in exile who yearn for the running water which flows through Jerusalem.

We are a pilgrim people who travel The Way laid out for us by Jesus, the Savior.

We are a chastened people who wish to cease mourning.

We are a hopeful people who respond to the Call to turn and return.

We are a faithful people who remember our Covenant with the Creator.

hands in hands

The New Covenant: Our hands in God’s hands . . . our hearts in God’s heart.

We are a loving and love-filled people who tremble with the anticipation of the Holy Spirit.

We are a holy people who witness, work and wait.

For the days are coming and, indeed . . . they are already here!


Adapted from a reflection written on October 24, 2007

Images from: http://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/if-god-is-the-potter/ and http://loudcry.org/sda/archives/4998 and http://www.journeythroughthestory.com/2014/08/ezekiel-3637.html

 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Seventy Years 

Can we imagine a seventy-year exile from all that we know? Can we picture seven times seventy years, or a four-hundred-ninety year banishment from all that we have come to love?

Jeremiah reframes for the Israelites – and for us – the cautions laid out by Yahweh with Moses on the desert mountain.

Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds . . .

Then you shall remain in the land the Lord gave to you of old . . .

Do not follow strange gods to serve and adore them . . .

Jeremiah’s Yahweh speaks of punishment to be delivered in subsequent verses and this clashes with our understanding of the Lord as a forgiving parent who remains with us through every difficulty, even the difficulties we bring on ourselves. We struggle to comprehend why the innocent suffer and why God does not intervene to eradicate every injustice.  And then we recall that we are created in love as God’s image in this world. We remember that we are part of God’s plan of salvation. We remember that our own hands and feet, our minds and lips are God’s in a world crying out for healing. We read these lines from thousands of years ago to recognize our role in God’s plan. When we discover injustice, we are called to act. When we see suffering, we are asked to intervene. When we find sickness, we are called to heal. Wherever we discern the crumbling walls of God’s kingdom, we are commissioned to love with, and for and in Christ.

Jesus tells us: Then the king will say . . . Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in;  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me”. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?  And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Individually and collectively we have the power in Christ to build the kingdom in this time and space. Alone and together we have the power in the Spirit to cure and heal. On our own and in solidarity we have the power through God to repair and build. Let us determine to give the years of our exile over to Christ for in so doing we live in the Spirit, and we transform ourselves and the world as we call forth the kingdom with God.


Enter the word captivity into the blog search bar and explore where or how we create our own exile from God, and what we might do to allow our separation to transform us.

For Bible study outlines, click on the image above or go to: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/category/old-testament-bible-study/page/37/ 

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJeremiah 24

The Two Baskets of Figs

From Bible footnotes: “Jeremiah, like Ezekiel, saw that no good could be expected from the people who had been left in Judah under Zedekiah or who had fled into Egypt; good was to be hoped for only from those who would pass through the purifying experience of the exile to form the new Israel.” (Senior 980)

If there is time in your day, read a bit about Jeconiah and the Chaldeans (Babylonians). If there is not much time, let us at least think about what God is asking of us when we experience exile, a time apart from places, persons or even events that are precious to us. God assures us that there is always an opportunity for distillation when we are apart. God reminds us that we experience the abiding presence of the Spirit when we are away from what we love. God tells us that those who are left behind, or sent away, are not the juicy first figs of the season; rather, they are the poor fruit that will not grace the banquet table. They are poor fruit that are loved by God nonetheless. God is the faithful, persistent harvester who nurses fruit from struggling plants. God is the hopeful, healing shepherd, going out to find the one sheep while leaving the ninety-nine behind. God is the patient, able silversmith heating metal to drain away the detritus and keeping watch that the precious ore is not poured away. God is the potter working the clay of our lives in hands that know us better than we know ourselves. As always with God, it is the inverse that proves true: those left behind are those redeemed; those sent away are the rescued.  And here in these verses of Chapter 24, Jeremiah brings us the imagery of two baskets of figs . . . one with first fruits, the other with rotten offerings.

Yahweh says: I will look after them for their good, and bring them back to this land, to build them up, not to tear them down; to plant them, not to pluck them out. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and precious God, we know that you are with us always, even when we must be apart undergoing transformation. We know that we are clay in your hands that you mold with intent and great care. Help us to abide with you as you abide with us. Guide us to hope in you as you hope in us. Teach us to love the world with you even as you love us. We know that true transformation comes with suffering, and that suffering is the path your son strode before us. But because the darkness sometimes feels too permanent, we ask that you guide us. Because the light sometimes seems as though it will never return, we ask that you lead us. Because the figs we bear are sometimes bitter, we ask that you carry us. Because the journey you ask us to walk is sometimes too perilous, we ask that you be us. For all of this we pray. Amen.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.980. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on June 14, 2007.

For more on Jeconiah and the Chaldeans, visit: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/711-did-jeremiah-err-regarding-jeconiah and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/c/chaldeans.htm

 Image from: http://www.wheatandtares.org/733/you-naughty-naughty-fig/

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Daniel 9:13-19

Prayer of Penitence – In the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

In today’s Noontime we ponder Daniels’s famous penitential prayer on behalf of the community. On the Eve of the first Sunday in Lent, we might reflect on three passages that complement today’s from Daniel. Ezra 9:6-15 and Nehemiah 1:5-11 and 9:6-37.  In this story, both priest and administrator rebuild the Jerusalem temple after Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return from exile. They have been told that their exile will last not 70 weeks or 70 years as was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah. No, they receive word that their captivity will end in seven times seventy or in 490 years. This is gloomy news until we begin to understand that this is precisely the amount of time until the arrival of Jesus.

The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY tells us that this prayer we read today is not seen so much as a petition from the people which God obeys but rather as an appropriate act of piety from a people who have erred and disobeyed. It is for this reason that it is best to find others who will pray this together with us as an admission of our collective willfulness, waywardness and disobedience. (Mays 631)

And let us pray Daniel’s prayer much as the Jewish community prayed with Ezra and Nehemiah when they returned to their ruined city.

woman-kneeling[1]God of Heaven, God of Earth, Spirit Dwelling Among Us,

Guide us . . . and grant us the faith to follow,

Be glad in us . . . and grant us the hope to rejoice in you,

Love us . . . and grant us the grace to grow in you.

We wish to turn . . . we wish to return to you.

For you are the beginning, the end, the all.

We are your servants.

May we serve you well.

Amen. 


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 631. Print.

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tent-in-the-desert-the-prayer-detail-eugene-alexis-girardet.html and http://annebender.blogspot.com/2013/07/three-things-i-love-about-catholicism.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored. All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion. In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties. Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion. When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance. When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them. When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world. When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world. When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you. Fulfill the hope planted in you. Come to me with your questions and concerns. Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth. This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)


For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

Image of Solomon’s Temple from: https://www.crystalinks.com/solomonstemple.html

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hosea 9: A Prayer of Return to God

lovehands[1]We have spent time with this prophet for much of the week and we have allowed ourselves to be open to a flood of emotions. When we consider the story of Hosea and Gomer we experience the depth and breadth of God’s patience, fidelity and love.  On this third Sunday in Lent we are invited to be frank about when and how we play Gomer to God’s Hosea.  We are also invited to consider the depth and breadth of Christ’s sacrifice; we are called to sink into the profundity and intensity of the Spirit’s consolation.  With God there is always an opportunity to return.

Israel becomes the harlot when she wanders from the covenant she had entered into with Yahweh. She oppresses the poor and adores idols; the mechanical offering of holocausts by her priests has become a false worship.  Israel’s prophets warn her of the consequences of her infidelity, but she continues to ignore these admonitions.  She leaves behind the gift of Exodus when Yahweh brought her out of captivity to a world of freedom.  She scoffs at the notion that a future exile will again enslave her.  And the longer she remains away from Yahweh, the more difficult – and useless – she sees the road of return.  And in her headlong desire to do precisely as she likes, she sends herself into her own loveless and dreadful exile.  If only she might return . . .

While Israel flirts with cataclysm and ignores all signs of warning, Yahweh abides and calls.  Yahweh hopes and prepares.  Yahweh waits and loves.

While Gomer gives herself to any who would have her in order to feel the quick rush of easy pleasure, Hosea abides and calls.  Hosea hopes and prepares. Hosea waits and loves.

Hosea sees this parallel and so must we.   And while Hosea aches for his lost love and yearns for Israel to return to her true role as Yahweh’s spouse, Yahweh waits for Israel to return.  And so does God call and wait on us today.

Picture1And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we forget to visit with you each day.  Renew in us a desire to be faithful to you. 

Good and constant God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we are easily lured away from you.  Renew in us a willingness to put aside the quick charms of a self-centered life. 

Good and tender God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we refuse to see the depths of your love.  Renew in us our understanding of your mercy, a willingness to persist through our doubt, and an eagerness to put everything aside for you. 

Good and ever-present God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we fail to return to you. Renew our strength, renew our courage, renew our faith, renew our hope, renew our love, and renew our all . . . so that we might return to you.

Amen.    


Image from: http://architectsofanewdawn.ning.com/group/returntolovepostshowdiscussion      

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ezekiel 12: While they are looking on . . .

NaysayersBeatsMysapceHeader2[1]In today’s Noontime we are reminded that we do not have to fight against the obstacles in life’s journey that loom so large.  It tells us that when barriers to freedom are gigantic and overwhelming we cannot struggle against them.  It says to us that we must turn to God in trust and obedience.  We must do as Jesus does even while the naysayers are looking on. 

Going into exile was an embarrassment to the “chosen” people.  They who had always been miraculously protected by Yahweh now found themselves going into captivity at the hands of the very pagans whom they had previously conquered in battle.  The Israelites have discovered that while they fought against the barbarian outside of the city walls, it was the enemy within that doomed them.  Corruption and deceit in their own community had decayed their society to the foundation.  There is no other outcome to expect than the one they are living . . . they are to pack their baggage in full view of the enemy, and then they are to dig their way through the broken walls of the city to march into captivity.  And all of this while the unbelievers are looking on.

So many times we find ourselves living among rebellious people, and we sometimes cannot even tell if we have become one with the idol worshipers.  We feel as though the world has gone mad and we are one of the few sane ones who remain.  In our Noontime journey we have reflected on how to weather the whirlwind when we see and hear it approaching; today we reflect on how to journey faithfully into captivity . . . while the world is looking on.

There is a remnant left by Yahweh: Yet I will leave a few of them to escape the sword, famine and pestilence so that they may tell of all their abominations among the nations to which they will come; thus they shall know that I am the Lord.  This just yet merciful God is always willing, and indeed eager to give his people another door to salvation, another opportunity to return.  God will vindicate us even in the darkest and most painful of times even while those who deny us are looking on.

There are occasions when it seems as though we alone are able to see what others cannot.  Circumstances and events speak loudly to us while they only whisper to those around us or speak not at all. The prophecy we hear and see and then repeat for others falls on stubborn ears.  The world mocks those who live simply so that others may live.  Society denies truth so that deception might reign.  Many favor the apparent security of tangible comfort while few remain faithful to the Spirit who is willing to abide while those who wish us gone are looking on.

Ezekiel describes a vision today that seems a long way off and yet is present in the Spirit within.  Ezekiel says that in a distant time to come there shall no longer be any false visions or deceitful divinations and yet this word is fulfilled by Christ in us today.  Ezekiel tells us of a future in which none of God’s words will be delayed any longer and yet this future lives in us today because God loves us so . . . even while the naysayers are looking on.

Let us spend time with this prophecy today.  And let us see that, despite the naysayers, Ezekiel’s vision lives in us in this present moment through the promise, the rescue and the love of God.


To read more about weathering the storms on our journey, type the word whirlwind into the search box on this blog. 

The opening paragraphs of today’s Noontime were written on August 12, 2010.  Today’s post is an amplification of that reflection.  

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Amos 9:11-15: Restoration

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Worker’s tools used in the restoration of the wall at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem

We have reflected on surprise.  We have reflected on The New Order of the Word who is Alpha and Omega – beginning and end.  Today we read about Restoration. . . the return from exile . . . the state we all seek.

I love reading this book by the prophet who left his work as a shepherd in Judah to denounce the empty wealth of the northern tribes.  His words rankled the power structure and so he was expelled from Bethel . . . to return to his pastoral work.  He brought a message of destruction . . . but a destruction which carries within the promise of restoration for the faithful.  This may be a surprise to many.  It is certainly the message of The Word.  It is The New Order of things.  It is Restoration of the Remnant.  Do we have the fortitude, the perseverance, the hope, the love . . . to be remnant?

When our own fallen hut is raised up . . .  do we recognize the voice of the shepherd enough to follow it?

When the breaches have been healed . . . do we allow our wounds to cure so that we might hear the new words of the shepherd?

When the plowman and the vintner overtake the reaper and the sower . . . will we know the way to the celebration with the shepherd?

When the ruined cities are rebuilt . . . will we recognize our new homes?

When we arrive to drink the new wine and eat the new fruits . . . will we possess the white garment to wear at the marriage feast?  Will we recognize Christ as the groom . . . and ourselves as the Bride?


Written on October 31, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

To learn more about the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls, click on the image above or go to: http://www.allartnews.com/jerusalems-five-century-old-walls-restored-at-cost-of-5-million-idiosyncracies-and-all/

To learn more about Bethel, go to: http://bibleatlas.org/bethel.htm

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