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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah’


Monday, September 7, 2020

soft-heart[1]Baruch 2:27-35

Warm Hearts and Heedful Ears

Baruch, secretary to the prophet Jeremiah, sets down his thoughts in poetry and prose. Today we reflect with him on God’s promises recalled.

God says: For I know they will not heed me, because they are a stiff-necked people. But in the land of their captivity they shall have a change of heart; they shall know that I, the Lord, am their God. I will give them hearts and heedful ears; and they shall praise me in the land of their captivity, and shall invoke my name. Then they shall turn back from their stiff-necked stubbornness, and from their evil deeds . . .

listening-ear1[1]Not much has changed about the human race since ancient days; we are still a stubborn and stiff-necked people who are reluctant to heed God’s word. We harden our hearts so that we do not feel another’s pain. We hold hard opinions to cover our fear. We exclude those on the margin with the easy argument that our own hard work has brought us prosperity. Our stubbornness brings us to the captivity of our fears where we perhaps finally have a change of heart and listen for God’s word.

We so often complain about what is wrong with the world when we spread rumors, stir up rancor, and add to the negativity that we so heavily criticize. So let us recall God’s promises and look to improve ourselves rather than others. Let us praise God even though we may be held captive by our fears. Let us open our own ears and soften our own hearts.L et us invoke God’s name and let us turn back from our stiff-necked stubbornness and our own dark deeds.

And let us re-discover God’s gift to us of open, warm hearts and eager, heedful ears.


To learn more about softening hard hearts, click on the heart image above or go to: http://mindsightcoaching.com/softening-the-heart/

For some practical hints on how to listen well, click on the image of the ear or go to: http://christopherwitt.com/how-to-improve-your-listening-skills/

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Daniel 9: Gabriel and the Seventy Weeks

Sunday, November 17, 2019

“I was still occupied with this prayer when Gabriel came to me in rapid flight”.

“A pressing theological question asserts itself.  Does the writer of Daniel think God’s purpose in bringing history to its end can be changed merely by uttering human prayers?” (Mays 631-632) Commentary will enlighten this passage for us further but if time is brief today we might reflect on this one question: How do we react when we discover that a period of trial will last longer than we had first believed?  How do we manage pain that endures not seventy years but seven times that number?  Do we reject God in anger or do we go to God in faith?  Do we sink into private despair or do we turn to God in universal hope?  Do we lash out against those who bring us truth or do we react in love . . . even toward our enemies?  What do we do when we find out that our seventy years of pain are seven times that number?   How do we endure?

Daniel provides us with a model, a plan, a pattern we can follow when we receive the news that life is a string of trials interspersed with little triumphs.  Chapter 9 lays out a simple map.

I turned to the Lord, pleading an earnest prayer . . . We turn to God and pour our fears into God’s ear.  We tell him our worries with honesty.  We do not hide any of the details for God already knows them.

With fasting, sackcloth, and ashes . . . We make an outward sign to our inward selves that we have given over all control to God.  We put aside all pride.  We place ourselves fully into God’s hands for God already holds us firmly.

I prayed to the Lord my God, and confessed . . . We enter into an open and straightforward dialog with God.  We say all that is on our minds, all that weighs down our hearts.  We admit that we have erred and have sometimes adored false idols.

And we can turn to God because God is good.  We can be truthful with God because God is forgiving.  We can put away our fears, our defenses and our weapons because God is love.

Know and understand this . . . Jerusalem was to be rebuilt . . .

When we discover that our suffering will not be ending when we first believed it would . . . we can follow Daniel’s model and remember that God always loves, God is always present, God always forgives and welcomes his tired ones home.  God does, indeed, respond to human prayer . . . and he sends his messenger to bring us the news that God is with us.


More notes on Daniel 9: “The prophet Jeremiah (25,11; 29,10) prophesied a Babylonian captivity of seventy years, a round number signifying the complete passing away of the existing generation.  Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus and the subsequent return of the Jews to Palestine.  However, the author of Daniel, living during the persecution of Antiochus, sees the conditions of the exile still existing; therefore in his mediation, he extends Jeremiah’s number to seventy weeks of years (v 24); i.e., seven times seventy years, to characterize the Jewish victory over the Seleucids as the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy”. (Senior cf. 2, 1100-1101)

To re-visit our reflections on other portions of Daniel 9: We begin with Daniel seeking Ultimate Fulfillment in God; Daniel intones a Prayer in the Desert; then suddenly Gabriel Comes to Daniel in rapid flight.  A vision ensues through which Daniel understands that an end will come to the anguish he and his exiled nation suffer . . . but this end is further off than anticipated. 

To read more about this prophecy, go to the Daniel – God Calls the Faithful and Faithless page on this blog. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 631-632. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1100-1101. Print.   

A re-post from October 27, 2012.

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Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 39:15-18: A Gesture of Comfort

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Even among the twists and turns in the tangled web of intrigue which surround Jeremiah’s life, this prophet remains true to his God.  Both his words and actions reveal his total devotion to the Lord, and his life – like the flight of a well-aimed arrow – arcs through turbulent history to blaze a path as safe passageway for the faithful to follow.  No one, after reading this man’s story, can say that their burden is too weighty to carry.  Anyone can see – from Jeremiah’s story – that tragedy and loss are not always a bad thing.  We frequently find redemption in the ashes of failure.  But we must be open to the belief that all is possible through God.  We must demonstrate trust.

Today finds us at a point in Jeremiah’s story where he is rewarded by the invaders for maintaining his fidelity to God.  In the midst of horror comes a gesture of comfort.  Horrible events spin around Jeremiah.  The king and his sons have been captured by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.  Zedekiah’s eyes have been put out, his sons have been executed.  The palace has been burned; the walls of the city are demolished; the deportation to Babylon has begun.  Jeremiah will be given permission to live where he likes – with the exiled or with the remnant.  A time of respite is upon him.

We do not know precisely where or how or when Jeremiah eventually dies; but one thing we know for certain is that he will remain as true to his God in his end days as we see him today.  Jeremiah will be rescued as he is always rescued.

Although there are times when we sit in the mud of the cistern of life, we too, are always rescued.  A word of comfort pierces the darkness.  A gesture of healing staunches a bleeding wound.  The sign of peace arrives at our door.  We know we are blessed.

In these graced moments amid life’s battles, we might pause to give thanks for such a healing and loving God.  All God asks in payment is our trust.


Written on October 20, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on this prophet and his prophecy, see the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/jeremiah-person-and-message/

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In ChristSunday, October 26, 2014

Jeremiah 1:1-10

I am too young . . .

This week we buried a young woman who was months away from her high school graduation. She was much too young to die. In our Noontime journey we have spent time with Jeremiah and today this reflection comes back to us. It was first written on September 26, 2008 and is adapted as a post today.

We just received word that the brother of one our ninth graders was killed in a car accident on his way to high school today.  He is a junior.  He is too young to go.

Looking for consolation we turn to scripture . . . the book opens to Jeremiah . . . and our eyes fall to see . . . I am too young.

We complain to God when he sends us or calls us that we are not the one to do this work with which he has tasked us.  We believe that we are not the proper servants.  We do not have the tools.  We do not know what to say or to do.  We are ill-equipped.  We are a constant Jeremiah.  And then events like today’s happen and all things come into perspective.

In a sense, each of us is too young.  None of us has the answers to the many questions we hear. We search for ways to solve the mystery before us . . . and we feel too young.

When the darkest hours hover, when the rain does not end, when the pain feels as though it is taking over, we can do only one thing.

Be still and know that I am God.

In sorrow and in silence my heart waits for you, O Lord.

Truly we are wonderfully made and you are our wondrous God.

We will call upon the Lord and we will be saved.

At dusk, dawn and noon we will complain.

And our prayer will be heard.

God in heaven be with us always.

And let perpetual light shine upon us.

Amen.

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worthy%20of%20the%20gospel_0Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Philippians 1:27-28

Firm in the Spirit

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

We are too often preoccupied with how our conduct appears to others rather than how it speaks of our image of God.

We are too frequently anxious about our self-protection rather than with our witnessing to the gospel we know to be true.

We too seldom remember to stand firm in the spirit in a manner worthy of our call.

Our recent journey with Jeremiah reminds us that in most days of our lives we can do little about our circumstances . . . but that we can do much about living in a manner worthy.

Enter the word worthy into the blog search bar and explore the worthiness we encounter . . . and the worthiness we engender. Compare the different versions of these verses by using the scripture link above. Choose other editions of the Bible and reflect on the value of Worthy Conduct. 

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parent-worthyMonday, October 20, 2014

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

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 

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Moses TentFriday, October 3, 2014

Psalm 15

Refusing Panic

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

Jeremiah has spoken to God’s people just as God has asked, and for his fidelity and suffering, he is abused and mocked.  The remnant remain and believe. The faithful know that sooner or later, Jeremiah will be silenced . . . but God’s word, spoken honestly and carefully, will never die. God’s truth lives forever and cannot be extinguished.

Jesus comes to live among us to heal and redeem, and for his compassion and mercy he is rejected and crucified. The remnant remain watchful and hopeful. The faithful know that here and now Christ continues to walk and live among us. God may be placed out of mind but God is present and cannot be denied. The Spirit is indwelling and cannot be extinguished.

A number of months ago we visited with Psalm 15 and we return today as we prepare for Jeremiah’s journey to Egypt – a place where the Hebrew people once sought refuge and became chained by slavery. A place from which the Twelve Tribes made their exodus with Moses to be delivered in their promised land. A place that served as refuge for the Christ family following Herod’s plot to murder the infant Jesus. Today we reflect on Psalm 15 and remind ourselves that when we stand steadfast in Christ, we must be prepared to reject anxiety. We must be ready to shun our fear. We must be willing to refuse any sense of panic.

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

God says: I am well aware of the sacrifices you make for me. I see that you put your desires and sometimes your needs to the side as you take up my cause and deliver my words. Like my prophet Jeremiah you even place yourself at risk when you speak and act as I have asked. Know that I see all of your big and small losses. Understand that I see how you suffer. Believe that I place my hope in you and that you may place all your hope in me. I am goodness and goodness never fails. I am compassion and compassion always heals. I am love and love never abandons . . . always accompanies . . . always saves . . . always redeems . . . always transforms . . . always brings home. If you must be carried off to Egypt, know that I go with you. And know that I will also bring you home.

Today, spend time with this short psalm, and consider not if we may dwell in the Lord’s tent or on God’s holy mountain, consider how we can dwell anywhere else.

Walk without blame, do what is right, speak truth from the heart, do not slander, defame, or harm your neighbor, disdain the wicked, honor those who love God, keep your promises at all cost, accept no bribe . . . for whoever acts like this shall never be shaken. 

See the Fearlessness reflection first written on March 25, 2010 and later posted as a favorite; and reflect on the importance of trusting God, of rejecting panic . . . and remaining as remnant that is never shaken.

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e.John14.6Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Psalm 25 and John 14

God Shows the Way

Part II

While we pause in our journey with the prophet Jeremiah we rest in the knowledge that God accompanies us always. While we ponder Jeremiah’s circumstances and how he suffers innocently, we spend time with Psalm 25 and reflect on the beautiful way it foreshadows God’s physical presence among us in the person of Jesus. While we come to understand the magnitude and intensity of God’s love for us, we spend a bit of time considering the beauty of the Spirit who dwells within . . . and the healing, redemptive hand of the one who created us.

In her bio, Heather King remarks that when she was asked how she could become a convert in Los Angeles with its juxtaposition of abundance and scarcity she replied with a question – as Jesus so often does – How could she not? Jeremiah may well have asked himself this question when found himself abused and imprisoned for speaking on God’s behalf. Today we ask ourselves this same question despite the pain of our journey . . . when we are called to follow Christ . . . how can we not?

When we find that we are in dark surroundings, we must not be afraid for God has come to us in human form to show us the way: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  (John 14:1) When we find ourselves surrounded by those who know only evil, we must follow the roadmap Jesus has left for us: You have faith in God; have faith also in me. (John 14:1)  When we find ourselves overcome with sorrow or loss, we have a path to follow: I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6) When we feel abandoned or betrayed, we have a guide to follow: I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (John 14:3)  When we are alone and lost, there is a trail before us standing open and inviting.  Where I am going you also know the way.  Jesus is amazed at our fear: Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? (John 14:9) Yet he loves us and is constantly making a way for us.  I am going to prepare a place for you.  (John 14:3)

The apostle John captures Jesus’ last discourse for us so beautifully that these words will not fail to sooth us when we suffer through our own Jeremiah times. It with these words that God shows us the way; and it is God’s Spirit that abides in us every inch of our journey.  With Christ as a brother, we are a part of the great human yearning for union with God.  Like homing birds we know the way . . . yet we too often allow the fears of the world to drown out the true voice that speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts.

I wait for you, O Lord, the psalmist sings, remember no more the sins of my youth, remember me only I the light of your love.  And God replies: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Where I am you also may be.  Have faith in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. 

God shows us the way . . . let us turn our eyes and ears to God . . . to take the loving hand that is offered.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

To learn more about Heather King, visit her blog at: http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/ 

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