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Posts Tagged ‘Nebuchadnezzar’


Daniel 2:20-23: Seek God

William Brassey Hole: Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Canticle of Praise

If we want to seek God, we do well to begin with praising God. In the Northern Hemisphere as we bring in the harvests from a season of plenty, we reflect on one who praises God well.

The story of Daniel is well-known to us.  He and his comrades were taken to the Babylonian court, as were many of the talented young Jewish men, and there he interprets king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  When he is graced with the gift of a vision from God, he reveals the mystery of the king’s dream. Daniel wisely acknowledges the source of his talent and so he properly and immediately thanks and praises his God with these beautiful verses.  They are ones that we might recite each morning and each evening at the rising and the closing of our day.

God is wise and powerful!
    Praise God forever and ever.

Daniel brings to full potential not only himself but also the Jewish nation . . . in a creative, saintly way.  He takes no care for his own circumstances – which are at the minimum unpleasant and at the worst life-threatening – because he knows that God will protect and guide him.  Daniel is only concerned about fulfilling the part of God’s plan which he has been called to enact.  He pushes himself toward the potential planted in him by God.  So do the saints.  So may we.

Let us praise God as Daniel does.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are God’s.

What an awesome God we have.  Let us join him and the community of saints as we seek to know ourselves better, to share ourselves better, to heal ourselves and others better.

God reveals deep and hidden things and knows what is in the darkness, for the light dwells with God.

Let us open to the light of the revealed Christ.  Let us put that light on a lampstand for all creation to see.

To you, O God . . . I give thanks and praise, because you have given me wisdom and power.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from November 1, 2007.

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Jeremiah 44: Into the Hill Country

Christmas Eve – Thursday, December 24, 2015mary-travels-with-joseph-to-bethlehem

The Israelites who are not deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon escape to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them.  Once settled in the south, rather than thanking Yahweh for delivery and turning to him in their time of trial, they begin to worship “The Queen of Heaven,” most likely the fertility goddess Astarte or Ishtar.  Jeremiah is believed to be assassinated after he warns the exiled people of Judah that their worship of this false goddess and their turning away from the one true God will spell out their doom.  These words prove to be true. Jeremiah is vindicated, but meets his end.

In this Advent season we celebrate one who is truly the Queen of Heaven, Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Today’s Gospel spells out her journey into the “hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb”.  And thus begins the story of Jesus and his cousin John the Baptist.  The words from today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation taken from the works of St. Bonaventure stand in contrast to what we find in today’s Noontime reading.  St. Bonaventure writes: Once a devout soul has been touched or moved by the hope of heavenly bliss, the fear of eternal punishment, or the weariness of living long in this vale of tears (Ps 84:7) it is visited by fresh inspirations, set alight with holy desires, and taken up with godly thoughts.  Again in contrast with the reaction of the Judahites is the reaction of the soul when it encounters God; and St. Bonaventure continues to describe how the soul will turn away from the world in order to turn to God.  The further one withdraws from the world, the closer becomes one’s friendship with good people. It follows that the more the company of ungodly people loses its attraction, the more the company f saintly and spiritual people inspires the heart with radiant delight.  St. Bonaventure advises us how to avoid falling into the trap of false worship.  Avoid the company of the wicked, go up into the hill country with Mary, seek the advice of spiritual people, strive to follow in the footsteps of the saints, reflect upon the teachings of holy people and also upon their actions and examples. 

SilhouetteThe Judahites carried Jeremiah away with them when they escaped from the Babylonians and fled to Egypt.  He continued to prophesy but they killed him for his words.

Elizabeth and her child John respond with joy when they realize they are in the presence of holiness.

What do we choose this Advent?  To hear the Word but reject it because it does not suit our schedule or plan?  Or to hear the Word and abide in it . . . whether or not it brings a message to us that we want to hear?  Do we choose to carry the prophet into exile and kill him for his counsel?  Or do we choose to go up into the hill country with Mary to surround ourselves with good and holy people?

We are not bound by any restrictions . . . for God so loves us that when he creates us he also gives us the freedom to choose our response to his call.  So as we consider our choice during this Advent season, we do well to spend a bit of time in the hill country today with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day. MAGNIFICAT.12.21 (2010). Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 21, 2010.

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joySaturday, November 22, 2014

Judith 11-16

Joy and Deliverance

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in miraculous deliverance.

Judith’s story is not included in all versions of the Bible because it is regarded by some to be an historical novel rather than sacred word. Others see is as a kind of allegory in that the name Judith is the feminine form of the word Judah. Still others point to anachronisms and decline to regard these words as inspired. In any case, the story holds is one of consequence, and one in which we see God’s deliverance of the faithful from the most extreme of circumstances.  It is a story to which we will want to attend.

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

If you did not have time to read the introductory chapters, move through them today – if even only quickly. The opening pages of the book prepare us for the dreadful middle and the joyful end. They put us in a time and place we will recognize as much like our own. They will give us a firmer footing from which to view this story, a stronger reason to hope as Judith does, and a clearer image of the desperation and joy she experiences.

Verse 14:9: When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy.

Is there a Judith among us who quietly moves forward through God’s plan and surprises us with an outrageous act of hope? Are we the unobtrusive Judith or almost unseen handmaiden who turns history on its head in a surprising way? And when God intervenes with and in us in such startling ways, do we recognize the presence of the Spirit in our hour of desperation?

Verse 15:9: When they arrived, they all praised her, “You are Jerusalem’s crowning glory, the heroine of Israel, the pride and joy of our people!”

Do we recognize the Judiths among us and if so, do we value their quiet persistence and determination? Do we perhaps see ourselves in the gritty and resolute actions of these women?  And when God intervenes with and in us in such surprising ways, do we give thanks and honor to the Living God who is in and with all who find joy in great peril and outrageous deliverance?

To better understand Judith’s world, click on the Gentileschi image above, or visit: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/artgentileschi_judithandthemaidservantwiththeheadofholofernes_1625.jpg 

For more details and insights about the encounters between Judith and Holofernes, visit other Noontime reflections by entering the word Judith into the blog search bar.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joyFriday, November 21, 2014

Judith 9-10

Joy and Peril

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in great peril.

The opening chapters of Judith’s story set a scene of violence, intrigue and power. War begins. An ultimate is delivered. An enemy is defeated and a council takes place to assess plans and possibilities. Nineveh and Ecbatana are now at the center of this drama, but Nebuchadnezzar rages against more than Persia. He lays out a secret plan to take revenge on the entire world, and once these plans are complete he sends for his general Holofernes. These events bring forth images from our daily newscasts that we might recognize in our modern world. Who would suspect that the town of Bethulia and the little-known widow, Judith, would turn the Assyrian power structure on its head? How might each of us, in our own infinitesimal way, have an effect upon the wider world? How might each of us find joy amid the peril that surrounds us?

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Verse 10:3: She took off the sackcloth and her widow’s clothes . . . Judith turns away from her inner grief and turns outward to the world. So might we.

She took a bath, and put on rich perfumes . . . Judith enters into an intentional plan brought forward through prayer. So might we.

She brushed her hair, tied a ribbon around it . . . Judith prepares herself as herself and not as another entity with grandiose ideas. So might we.

She dressed herself in the fine clothes she used to wear on joyful occasions when her husband Manasseh was still alive . .  . Judith moves forward in the only way she knows how. In fidelity. In trust. In faith. In hope. So might we.

In Chapter 9 we find The Prayer of Judith, beautiful, honest verses of petition from one who is so small against gargantuan obstacles. If we spend some time with these words today, we might better understand how Judith calls forth the joy she had once known to find joy in great peril.

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Judith into the blog search bar and explore.

 

For information about the woman who painted this rendition of Judith and her servant, click on the image above or visit: http://zadokromanus.blogspot.com/2005/06/artemisia-gentileschi.html 

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Jeremiah 52:12-30

Babylonian CaptivityThe End – Part II: Destruction

On the tenth day of the fifth month [this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon], Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and the houses of Jerusalem; every large building he destroyed with fire. And the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down all the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.

The city that was to shield them, the temple that was to house their God, and the walls that were to protect them . . . all of this is razed in fire and dust.

Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the rest of the people left in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the artisans. But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Those who had led them, those who worshiped with them, those who served them . . . all of these are led away as slaves.

The bronze pillars that belonged to the house of the Lord, and the wheeled carts and the bronze sea in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke into pieces; they carried away all the bronze to Babylon.

The columns that held them, the basin that bathed them, the wheels that bore them . . . all of this is taken into exile.

The captain of the guard also took Seriah, the high priest, Zephaniah, the second priest, and the three keepers of the entry. And from the city he too one courtier, a commander of soldiers, and seven men in the personal service of the king who were present in the city, and the scribe of the army commander, who mustered the people of the land, and sixty of the common people who were in the city. The captain of the guard, that surrounded Jerusalem, arrested these and brought them to the king of Babylon in Riblah, who had them struck down and put to death.

Those who those who served the king, those who held sacrifice, those who made rules, those who guarded the doors against them, those who fought and those who wrote out to orders to fight, even those who were ordinary among them . . . all of these are lead away to destruction.

Thus was Judah exiled from her land . . .

Tomorrow, Part III . . . Hope

To learn more about the Temple Sea of Bronze, visit: http://www.templesecrets.info/bronzesea.html

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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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140620_refugeegraphicrevisedMonday, October 6, 2014

Jeremiah 44

Scattered Refugees

Only scattered refugees will return.

Through Jeremiah, Yahweh tells the people once again that their journey to Egypt has been futile. In seeking an alliance with Pharoah Hophra, Zedekiah and his followers have not found refuge; rather, they have further incurred the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. Yahweh promises that those who smugly thought to avoid the consequences of their actions will, in due time, fall to the armies of Babylon. And if we doubt the outcome here, history tells us what happened to those who went down to Egypt.

In the New Testament, Jesus’ family escaped Herod’s wrath by fleeing to Egypt.  (Matthew 2:13-23) Upon their return, Joseph takes his wife and child to Nazareth in Galilee. The ruler Archelaus was a leader who did not inspire confidence.

In our world today there are millions of refugees who flee home for political, social or religious reasons. The office of the United Nations Commission on Refugees gives us facts and figures and tells us that there are over 51 million refugees in the world today.

refugeeOn the Foreign Policy blog we learn that these millions of refugees could stretch around the world more than twice if they were holding hands.

And the Catholic Charities site gives us a definition that ought to make it clear that any one of us might be a refugee if the circumstances were right.

Today Jeremiah brings us these words from God: Though I kept sending to you all my servants the prophets . . . you would not listen or accept the warning to turn away from evil.

Let us hope that we hear God’s voice today. Let us have faith that we might become instruments for peace and justice through our small but not insignificant acts today. And let us lovingly seek intercession for those who engage in evil with no concern for the safety or welfare of others.

God’s position is clear. God resides with the homeless, the hungry, the rejected and the outcast. Jesus accompanies the displaced, the starving and those who have no shelter or help. The Spirit remains in the hearts and souls of the scattered refugees who sit on our borders asking for help. Let us inform ourselves today . . . and resolve to commit an act of kindness for the outcast. For it is only by God’s grace that we are not now among their number.

TentsExplore the United Nations, Foreign Policy and Catholic Charities links and share what you learn with others. Then commit to a healing act of solidarity through an offer of help in some way to those who so desperately need it. If you are a U.S. citizen, also consider contacting those who represent you in state, local or federal government to ask that they come together to address the needs of a the world in which more than 51 million of us seek refuge. Or visit: 

http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/06/20/there_are_as_many_refugees_in_the_world_as_justin_bieber_twitter_followers

and http://www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/refugee-resettlement

 

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Wadi-Ferian-Bedowin-women-hSaturday, October 4, 2014

Jeremiah 43

The Insolent

You lie, it is not the Lord, our God, who sent you . . .

Many of us have been in family circumstances in which a loved one accuses us of carrying lies. Perhaps our workplaces or neighborhoods have become places of discomfort rather than sanctuaries from the difficult wider world. If this is the case, we are not alone. Jeremiah refuses to be carried away to Babylon and also refuses to flee to Egypt, knowing that what appears to be a move into safety is, in fact, a desperate, hopeless plan.  And for speaking words of truth, Jeremiah is branded a liar, and the people decide to leave Judah. Against the advice God delivers through Jeremiah, they move south to Egypt, taking the prophet with them to a place called Tahpanhes. There the Lord continues to speak . . . and Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign against Egypt in 568 B.C.E. is predicted.

egypt02God says: There are many occasions when I ask you to trust me and do as I ask. There are many circumstances in which you suffer anxiety and fear because of me. But there are also many times in which you rejoice in my saving love. If you are carried off to Tahpanhes do not fear, I am with you. You may be forced to dwell for a time in a place where all those around you worship pagan gods and pagan ways but do not be afraid, I will not abandon you. No matter your place or your time, I abide with you for I am endless. No matter your worry or your joy, I live with you for I am everywhere and in everything. No matter the gravity of your loss I speak to you . . . just as I spoke to Jeremiah even when he was taken off by insolent men and carried into Egypt, even though he came to find himself in Tahpanhes.

When we doubt that we are living God’s word, we only need ask for affirmation and counsel . . . even though we find ourselves surrounded by the insolent . . . even though we find ourselves in Tahpanhes.

For more on Jeremiah 43, click on the camel and pyramid image above or visit: http://precepts.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/jeremiah-in-egypt/ 

Explore the Egyptian journey of Pastor Al Sandalow by clicking on the other images or by visiting: http://fpeb.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html Scroll down through his posts to read the amazing story of St. Catherine’s and some of his other experiences.St-Cathrines-wide-view-web

 

 

 

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Monday, September 8, 2014

jeremiah 29-11Jeremiah 29

A Message to Exiles

Jeremiah is clear: the future prosperity of those going into exile depends upon settling in and making the most of a long captivity. Hananiah and his followers have miscalculated, and have lost their lives in the bargain; the exile will not be a short one. Jeremiah and his supporters have proved correct; Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire is not a passing force; it will hold a central position in the region for quite a long time. (Mays 567)

At first glance we find a bleak situation – there is no remedy, no rescuer, and no plan in place to put injustice right. And yet, Jeremiah offers hope with some of the most beautiful verses in all of sacred scripture. He brings hope to a desolate and despairing people; he brings us words from the Living God that will sustain us when nothing else will.

When nights are endless and days are wearying, we remember . . .

Thus says the Lord: I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for woe!  plans to give you a future full of hope.

When human resources are gone and we know we are empty . . .

When you call me, when you go to pray for me, you will find me.

When we see nothing but obstacles before us . . .

Jeremiah 29.13Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, and I will change your lot.

When we believe we can no longer survive . . .

I will gather you together from all the nations.

When we yearn for a time past when we understood more and were confused less . . .

I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.

When we consider the periods of exile we experience even in the midst of our lives busy with families, neighbors and colleagues, we might turn to Jeremiah who harbingers the promise of God’s outrageous hope, the promise of Christ’s redemption, and the promise of the Spirit’s in-dwelling. This is his message to the exiles and to us: God has plans for you . . . plans for your joy . . . and not for woe . . . plans to bring you back . . . to the place you have been promised.

 

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