Day 238 – Fall of Jerusalem

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read that Jeremiah is put in the stocks. He is hurt by this and reaches out to the Lord saying “you have deceived me.” Jeremiah is surrounded by false prophets who have no problem with lying. They falsely proclaim that God will deliver his people from Babylon. Jeremiah again reiterates that the Lord will allow Jerusalem to fall.

We start the book of Daniel today. It contains familiar stories and also recounts revelations. Daniel and Jeremiah are contemporaries. Daniel and three companions are trained for three years in the king’s house. They refuse to eat from the king’s table but instead eat only food permissible according to the Law. Faithfulness to God can still happen even in the midst of exile. We see how people of God should live when they aren’t on their own land.

We also read about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He wants it interpreted, but requires the interpreter to share not only the meaning but the dream itself. When Daniel is called on by the king to interpret his dream, he asks Hannah, Aariah, and Mishael to pray with him. When he correctly recounts and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he gives all credit to the Lord.

The dream is of a statue made of different materials representing Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and the kingdom God establishes — the church.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Jeremiah 20

1 Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was the chief of police in the Temple of Yahweh, heard Jeremiah making this prophecy.

2 Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah and then put him in the stocks, in the Upper Benjamin Gate leading into the Temple of Yahweh.

3 Next day, Pashhur had Jeremiah taken out of the stocks; Jeremiah then said to him, ‘Not Pashhur but Terror-on-every-Side is Yahweh’s name for you.

4 For Yahweh says this, “I am going to hand you over to terror, you and all your friends; they will fall by the sword of their enemies, your own eyes will see it. The whole of Judah, too, I shall hand over to the king of Babylon; he will carry them off captive to Babylon and put them to the sword.

5 And all the wealth of this city, all its stores, all its valuables, all the treasures of the kings of Judah, I shall hand over to their enemies who will plunder them, round them up and carry them off to Babylon.

6 As for you, Pashhur, and your whole household, you will go into captivity; you will go to Babylon; there you will die, and there be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.” ‘

7 You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they all make fun of me.

8 For whenever I speak, I have to howl and proclaim, ‘Violence and ruin!’ For me, Yahweh’s word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long.

9 I would say to myself, ‘I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more,’ but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it.

10 I heard so many disparaging me, ‘Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’ All those who were on good terms with me watched for my downfall, ‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error. Then we shall get the better of him and take our revenge!’

11 But Yahweh is at my side like a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, vanquished, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.

12 Yahweh Sabaoth, you who test the upright, observer of motives and thoughts, I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you.

13 Sing to Yahweh, praise Yahweh, for he has delivered the soul of one in need from the clutches of evil doers.

14 A curse on the day when I was born! May the day my mother bore me be unblessed!

15 A curse on the man who brought my father the news, ‘A son, a boy has been born to you!’ making him overjoyed.

16 May this man be like the towns that Yahweh overthrew without mercy; may he hear the warning-cry at dawn and the shout of battle at high noon,

17 for not killing me in the womb; my mother would have been my grave and her womb pregnant for ever.

18 Why ever did I come out of the womb to see toil and sorrow and end my days in shame?

Jeremiah 21

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malchiah to him, with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, to say this,

2 ‘Please consult Yahweh for us, since Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war on us: perhaps Yahweh will work one of his many miracles for us and force him to withdraw.’

3 Jeremiah said to them, ‘Take this answer to Zedekiah,

4 “Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: I shall bring back the weapons of war which you are now carrying, and with which you are fighting the king of Babylon and the Chaldaeans now besieging you; from outside the walls, I shall stack them in the centre of this city.

5 And I shall fight against you myself with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, fury and great wrath.

6 I shall strike down the inhabitants of this city, human and animal; they will die of a great plague.

7 Then, Yahweh declares, I shall deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials, the people and those of this city who have escaped the plague, the sword, or the famine, into the clutches of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the clutches of their enemies and into the clutches of those determined to kill them; mercilessly, relentlessly, pitilessley, he will put them to the sword.”

8 ‘And you must say to this people, “Yahweh says this: Look, I offer you a choice between the way of life and the way of death.

9 Anyone who stays in this city will die by sword, by famine, or by plague; but anyone who leaves it and surrenders to the Chaldaeans now besieging you will live; he will escape with his life.

10 For I am determined on disaster, and not prosperity, for this city, Yahweh declares. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.” ‘

11 To the royal House of Judah. Listen to the word of Yahweh,

12 House of David! Yahweh says this: Each morning give fair judgement, rescue anyone who has been wronged from the hands of his oppressor, or else my wrath will leap out like a fire, it will burn and no one will be able to quench it, because of the wickedness of your actions.

13 My quarrel is with you, resident of the valley, Rock-in-the-Plain, Yahweh declares, with you that say, ‘Who would dare attack us and enter our lairs?’

14 I shall punish you as your actions deserve, Yahweh declares, I shall set fire to its forest and it will devour all around it.

Daniel 1

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched on Jerusalem and besieged it.

2 The Lord let Jehoiakim king of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels belonging to the Temple of God. These he took away to Shinar, putting the vessels into the treasury of his own gods.

3 From the Israelites, the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring a certain number of boys of royal or noble descent;

4 they had to be without any physical defect, of good appearance, versed in every branch of wisdom, well-informed, discerning, suitable for service at the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to speak and write the language of the Chaldaeans.

5 The king assigned them a daily allowance of food and wine from the royal table. They were to receive an education lasting for three years, after which they would enter the royal service.

6 Among them were the Judaeans Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

7 The chief eunuch gave them other names, calling Daniel Belteshazzar, Hananiah Shadrach, Mishael Meshach, and Azariah Abed-Nego.

8 Daniel, who was determined not to incur pollution by food and wine from the royal table, begged the chief eunuch to spare him this defilement.

9 God allowed Daniel to receive faithful love and sympathy from the chief eunuch.

10 But the eunuch warned Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king: he has assigned you food and drink, and if he sees you looking thinner in the face than the other boys of your age, my head will be in danger with the king because of you.’

11 To the guard assigned to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah by the chief eunuch, Daniel then said,

12 ‘Please allow your servants a ten days’ trial, during which we are given only vegetables to eat and water to drink.

13 You can then compare our looks with those of the boys who eat the king’s food; go by what you see, and treat your servants accordingly.’

14 The man agreed to do what they asked and put them on ten days’ trial.

15 When the ten days were over, they looked better and fatter than any of the boys who had eaten their allowance from the royal table;

16 so the guard withdrew their allowance of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

17 To these four boys God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and learning; Daniel also had the gift of interpreting every kind of vision and dream.

18 When the time stipulated by the king for the boys to be presented to him came round, the chief eunuch presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.

19 The king conversed with them, and among all the boys found none to equal Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they became members of the king’s court,

20 and on whatever point of wisdom or understanding he might question them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and soothsayers in his entire kingdom. Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Daniel 2

1 In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had a series of dreams; he was perturbed by this and sleep deserted him.

2 The king then had magicians and soothsayers, sorcerers and Chaldaeans summoned to tell him what his dreams meant. They arrived and stood in the king’s presence.

3 The king said to them, ‘I have had a dream, and my mind is troubled by a wish to understand it.’

4 The Chaldaeans answered the king: ‘May your majesty live for ever! Tell your servants the dream, and we shall reveal its meaning for you.’

5 The king answered the Chaldaeans, ‘This is my firm resolve: if you cannot tell me what I dreamt and what it means, I shall have you torn limb from limb and your houses turned into dunghills.

6 If, on the other hand, you can tell me what I dreamt and what it means, I shall give you presents, rewards and high honour. So tell me what I dreamt and what it means.’

7 A second time they said, ‘Let the king tell his dream to his servants, and we shall reveal its meaning.’

8 But the king retorted, ‘It is plain to me that you are trying to gain time, knowing my proclaimed resolve.

9 If you do not interpret my dream for me, there will be but one sentence passed on you all; you have agreed among yourselves to make me misleading and tortuous speeches while the time goes by. So tell me what my dream was, and then I shall know whether you can interpret it.’

10 The Chaldaeans answered the king, ‘Nobody in the world could explain the king’s problem; what is more, no other king, governor or chief would think of putting such a question to any magician, soothsayer or Chaldaean.

11 The question the king asks is difficult, and no one can find the king an answer to it, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.’

12 At this the king flew into a rage and ordered all the Babylonian sages to be put to death.

13 On publication of the decree to have the sages killed, search was made for Daniel and his companions to have them put to death.

14 Then, with shrewd and cautious words, Daniel approached Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, when he was on his way to kill the Babylonian sages.

15 To this royal official Arioch he said, ‘Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?’ Arioch explained matters to Daniel,

16 and Daniel went off to ask the king for a stay of execution to give him the opportunity of revealing his interpretation to the king.

17 Daniel then went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah what had happened,

18 urging them to beg the God of heaven to show his mercy and explain the mysterious secret, so that Daniel and his friends might be spared the fate of the other Babylonian sages.

19 The mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a night-vision, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

20 This is what Daniel said: May the name of God be blessed for ever and ever, since wisdom and power are his alone.

21 It is he who controls the procession of times and seasons, who makes and unmakes kings, who confers wisdom on the wise, and knowledge on those with discernment,

22 who uncovers depths and mysteries, who knows what lies in darkness; and light dwells with him.

23 To you, God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise for having given me wisdom and strength: to me you have explained what we asked you, to us you have explained the king’s problem.

24 So Daniel went to see Arioch, whom the king had made responsible for putting the Babylonian sages to death. Going in, he said, ‘Do not put the Babylonian sages to death. Take me into the king’s presence and I will reveal the meaning to the king.’

25 Arioch lost no time in bringing Daniel to the king. ‘Among the exiles from Judah,’ he said, ‘I have discovered a man who can reveal the meaning to the king.’

26 The king said to Daniel (who had been given the name Belteshazzar), ‘Can you tell me what I dreamt and what it means?’

27 Facing the king, Daniel replied, ‘None of the sages, soothsayers, magicians or exorcists has been able to tell the king the truth of the mystery which the king has propounded;

28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and who has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what is to take place in the final days. These, then, are the dream and the visions that passed through your head as you lay in bed:

29 ‘Your Majesty, on your bed your thoughts turned to what would happen in the future, and the Revealer of Mysteries disclosed to you what is to take place.

30 This mystery has been revealed to me, not that I am wiser than anyone else, but for this sole purpose: that the king should learn what it means, and that you should understand your inmost thoughts.

31 ‘You have had a vision, Your Majesty; this is what you saw: a statue, a great statue of extreme brightness, stood before you, terrible to see.

32 The head of this statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,

33 its legs of iron, its feet part iron, part clay.

34 While you were gazing, a stone broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue, struck its feet of iron and clay and shattered them.

35 Then, iron and clay, bronze, silver and gold, all broke into pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole world.

36 This was the dream; we shall now explain to the king what it means.

37 ‘You, Your Majesty, king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given sovereignty, power, strength and honour-

38 human beings, wild animals, birds of the air, wherever they live, he has entrusted to your rule, making you king of them all — you are the golden head.

39 And, after you, another kingdom will rise, not as great as yours, and then a third, of bronze, which will rule the whole world.

40 There will be a fourth kingdom, hard as iron, as iron that pulverises and crushes all. Like iron that breaks everything to pieces, it willcrush and break all the earlier kingdoms.

41 The feet you saw, part earthenware, part iron, are a kingdom which will be split in two, but which will retain something of the strengthof iron, just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together.

42 The feet were part iron, part potter’s clay: the kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.

43 And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in human seed; but they will not hold together any more than iron will blend with clay.

44 In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms and itself last for ever-

45 just as you saw a stone, untouched by hand, break away from the mountain and reduce iron, bronze, earthenware, silver and gold to powder. The Great God has shown the king what is to take place. The dream is true, the interpretation exact.’

46 At this, King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel; he gave orders for Daniel to be offered an oblation and a fragrant sacrifice.

47 The king said to Daniel, ‘Your god is indeed the God of gods, the Master of kings, and the Revealer of Mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.’

48 The king then conferred high rank on Daniel and gave him many handsome presents. He also made him governor of the whole province of Babylon and head of all the sages of Babylon.

49 At Daniel’s request, the king entrusted the affairs of the province of Babylon to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego; Daniel himself remained in attendance on the king.

Proverbs 15:25-28

25 Yahweh pulls down the house of the proud, but he keeps the widow’s boundaries intact.

26 Wicked scheming is abhorrent to Yahweh, but words that are kind are pure.

27 Craving for dishonest gain brings trouble on a house, hatred of bribery earns life.

28 The heart of the upright reflects before answering, the mouth of the wicked spews out wickedness.

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