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Monday, October 10, 2016

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem...

Our last study showed Daniel witnessing to God's power in Nebuchadnezzar's court. But there were still Jews in Jerusalem - still a king and prophets in Jerusalem. So this week we look at how the remnant was looking at current events. Back to Jeremiah...

(30) Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem

Daniel was among the first exiles removed from Jerusalem. While he was growing up in the pomp and ceremony of the Babylonian court, Jeremiah remained at the Jerusalem court, serving under the puppet king Zedekiah (who replaced Jejoiachin).

1.       Read 2 Kings 24:15-19, Jeremiah 52:1-2 Why might the same passage be repeated in two different places?

2.       Read Jeremiah 27:1-6. Why might some translations and some interpretations name Zedekiah, others Jehoiakim?

3.       Read Jeremiah 27:7-8. How do we decide when to rebel and when to submit to secular authority?

4.       Read Jeremiah 27:9-10. Are we ever tempted to think we know what God wants? How do we tell the difference between inspiration and interpretation?

Jeremiah promised the yoke would fall on many countries. Some more specific prophecies concerning those countries are included later in the book:

Moab—plateau southeast of the Dead Sea—sheep, goats, wheat and barley were farmed there. A stone has been found at Dibon, celebrating Moab’s victory when inhabitants of the Israelite town Ataroth were killed in honor of the god Chemosh. Parts of Moab once belonged to Reuben. (Parts of this passage are similar to Isaiah 15,16)

1.       Read Jeremiah 48:1, 6-8, 13. Moab will fall to Babylon. Her god will fall to God.
a.       Why was Israel ashamed of Bethel?

b.      What might we be ashamed of in the same way? And who do we want to win battles today?

2.       Read Jeremiah 48:9, 11.Some translations switch between “he” and “she.” What might be the significance?

3.       Read Jeremiah 48:14. Do we say that? Why should or shouldn’t we?

4.       Read Jeremiah 48:18-25. How might the list of names have affected the first readers?

5.       Read Jeremiah 48:28. What image does this convey?

6.       Read Jeremiah 48:29-30. Pride and wrath (arrogance? Insolence?) are mentioned. What is wrong with them?

7.       Read Jeremiah 48:31-32, 36, 47. Does this sound like a vengeful god?

8.       Read Jeremiah 48:40. The eagle symbolizes Babylon.
a.       What other countries has it symbolized in history?

b.      What do you think of when you think of eagles? How does cultural experience change how we read?

Ammon—east of the Jordan, east of Gad—worshipped the god Milcom (maybe Molech). Heshbon was a border town between Moab and Ammon, so it frequently changed sides in war.

1.       Read Jeremiah 49:1,3,6. Again, is this a vengeful god?

2.       What else do you know about Ammon and the Ammonites? (Descended from Lot, wouldn’t let Israel cross their land in Exodus, war with David, allies of Ben-Hadad, part of the three armies that failed to defeat Jehoshaphat, encouraged Babylon against Jerusalem 2 Kings 24:2, denounced in Amos 1:13. They’re involved in the assassination of the governor Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25, Jeremiah 40:14) and they’ll soon ally with Israel and be denounced in Jeremiah 49 &Ezekiel 21)

Edom—south of Moab—Edom supported Babylon in the siege of Jerusalem (Read Psalm 137:7), was conquered by Bablylon, then by Arabs, then destroyed. Its survivors moved to southern Judah in Idumea. Bozrah was near the Dead Sea. (Parts of this passage are similar to Obadiah)

3.       Read Jeremiah 49:7, Job 4:1. Temanites were Edomites. What sort of wisdom do we think they valued? What do we value?

4.       Read Jeremiah 49:9-11. Who will be spared? Why?

5.       Read Jeremiah 49:12-13. Who drank the cup? Who drank the cup for us?

6.       Read Jeremiah 49:16. How does fierceness deceive a powerful nation?

7.       Read Jeremiah 49:19. Lions did hide in the grass around the river. What shepherd does this make us think of?

Damascus—same land as Tyre and Sidon, ruled by Syria, Ben-Hadad, in the past, fell to Assyria, Egypt, then Babylon.

1.       Read Jeremiah 49:23-26. Why might a much-loved city not be abandoned in the face of threat? What are we tempted to place our trust in, or refuse to abandon?

Kedar and Hazor—the Kedar were the nomadic Arabs (who later conquered Edom). Hazor probably means a nomadic enclosure, rather than a particular city.

1.       Can you paraphrase how the Arabs escape Babylon (read Jeremiah 49:28-33)?

Elam—this land was East of Babylon. Zedekiah may have felt hopeful at hearing of rebellion on the other side of the empire, but Jeremiah tells him not to. The capital city, Shushan, became Susa in the Persian empire, mentioned in Nehemiah and Esther.

1.       Read Jeremiah 49:34-35,39. Vengeful? Prophetic? What do you think?

Rest of the nationsRead Jeremiah 25:15-16. Wine takes on many meanings. Which ones come to mind for you?

1.       Why might a cup symbolize health? Wealth? Drunkeness? Wrath? Punishment?

2.       Read Jeremiah 25:17-26. Do you recognize any of these kingdoms after reading chapters 48-49?

3.       Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod and Gaza were the five Philistine cities. Ekron was nearest to Judah. Gath had already fallen by Jeremiah’s time and Ashdod was almost destroyed. Egyptian records show a Philistine king asking for help against Babylon, and Babylonian records describe the destruction of a Philistine city. What picture does this give you of the world outside Judah at this time?

Jeremiah prophesies destruction, but the rest of Judah’s prophets say all will be well. Read Jeremiah 27:12-17.

1.       How should religious or secular leaders have known which voices were true?

2.       How can we know?

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