Day 256 – Hard Seasons

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read the longest chapter of Jeremiah. We read about the horrible conditions that are left behind. God uses Babylon to bring justice to his people. It is not a reflection that Babylon was good or that one king was better than another. Both were bad and God uses both of them to fulfill his will.

God gives us free will. With this it may bring suffering for us and others if we choose the wrong path. He can still bring about great good from what we do, even bad choices for our sins. God is just, great and loving. He uses all of us to bring his will forward.

Suffering can transform us. It can make us better and it can also show us the darkness and brokenness of our own hearts. We should always pray we will be spared from all the horrors and destruction that may be around us. We should also pray to face adversity with courage and compassion.

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 51

1 Yahweh says this: Against Babylon and the inhabitants of Leb-Kamai I shall rouse a destructive wind.

2 I shall send winnowers to Babylon to winnow her and leave her country bare, for she will be beleaguered on all sides, on the day of disaster.

3 Let no archer bend his bow! Let no man swagger in his breastplate!-No quarter for her young men! Curse her whole army with destruction!

4 In the country of the Chaldaeans the slaughtered will fall, in the streets of Babylon, those run through by the sword.

5 For Israel and Judah have not been bereft of their God, Yahweh Sabaoth, although their country was full of sin against the Holy One of Israel.

6 Escape from Babylon (save your lives, each one of you); do not perish for her guilt, for now is the time for Yahweh’s vengeance: he will pay her her reward!

7 Babylon was a golden cup in Yahweh’s hand, she made the whole world drunk, the nations drank her wine and then went mad.

8 Babylon has suddenly fallen, is broken: wail for her! Fetch balm for her wounds, perhaps she can be cured!

9 -‘We tried to cure Babylon; she has got no better. Leave her alone and let us each go to his own country.’ -Yes, her sentence reaches to the sky, rises to the very clouds.

10 Yahweh has shown the uprightness of our cause. Come, let us tell in Zion what Yahweh our God has done.

11 Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers! Yahweh has roused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because he has a plan against Babylon to destroy it; this is Yahweh’s revenge, revenge for his Temple.

12 Against the walls of Babylon raise the standard! Strengthen the guard! Post the sentries! Take up concealed positions! For Yahwehhas both planned and done what he promised he would to the inhabitants of Babylon.

13 Enthroned beside abundant waters, rich in treasures, you now meet your end, the finish of your pillaging.

14 By his own self Yahweh Sabaoth has sworn: I shall fill you with men as though with grasshoppers, and over you they will raise the triumph-shout.

15 By his power he made the earth, by his wisdom set the world firm, by his discernment spread out the heavens.

16 When he thunders there is a roaring of waters in heaven; he raises clouds from the furthest limits of the earth, makes the lightning flash for the downpour, and brings the wind from his storehouse.

17 At this everyone stands stupefied, uncomprehending, every goldsmith blushes for his idols; his castings are but delusion, with no breath in them.

18 They are futile, a laughable production, when the time comes for them to be punished, they will vanish.

19 The Heritage of Jacob is not like these, for he is the maker of everything, and Israel is the tribe that is his heritage; His name is Yahweh Sabaoth.

20 You were my mace, a weapon of war. With you I crushed nations, struck kingdoms down,

21 with you crushed horse and rider, with you crushed chariot and charioteer,

22 with you crushed man and woman, with you crushed old man and young, with you crushed young man and girl,

23 with you crushed shepherd and flock, with you crushed ploughman and team, with you crushed governors and magistrates,

24 and I shall repay Babylon and the inhabitants of Chaldaea, before your eyes, for all the wrongs they have done to Zion, Yahwehdeclares.

25 I am setting myself against you, mountain of destruction, Yahweh declares, destroyer of the whole world! I shall reach out my hand for you and send you tumbling from the crags and make you a burnt-out mountain.

26 No corner-stone will be taken from you again and no foundation-stone, for you will be a desert for ever, Yahweh declares.

27 Raise the standard throughout the world, sound the trumpet among the nations! Consecrate nations to make war on her; summon kingdoms against her: Ararat, Minni, Ashkenaz; appoint a recruiting-officer for her enemies, bring up the cavalry, bristling like locusts.

28 Consecrate nations to make war on her: the kings of Media, her governors, all her magistrates and the whole territory under their rule.

29 Then the earth trembled and writhed, for Yahweh’s plan against Babylon was being executed: to change the country of Babylon into an unpopulated desert.

30 The warriors of Babylon have done with fighting, they have stayed inside their fortresses; their courage exhausted, they are now like women. Her houses are on fire, her gates are shattered.

31 Courier follows close on courier, messenger on messenger, to tell the king of Babylon that his city has been taken from all sides,

32 the fords occupied, the bastions burnt down and the fighting men seized with panic.

33 For Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: the daughter of Babylon is like a threshing-floor when it is being trodden: a little while, and then the time for harvesting her will come.

34 He devoured me, consumed me, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, left me like an empty dish, like the Dragon he has swallowed me whole, filled his belly with my titbits and threw me out.

35 ‘On Babylon be the wounds I suffered!’ the daughter of Zion will say. ‘On the inhabitants of Chaldaea be my blood!’ Jerusalem willsay.

36 So, Yahweh says this: Look, I am taking up your cause to make sure you are avenged. I shall dry her river up, make her springs run dry.

37 Babylon will become a heap of stones, the lair of jackals, a thing of horror and of scorn, with no one living in it.

38 Like lions they roar together, they growl like lions’ whelps.

39 Are they feverish? I will prepare them a drink and make them drink until they are tipsy and fall into an everlasting sleep, never to wake again, Yahweh declares.

40 I will drag them away to the slaughterhouse like lambs, like rams and goats.

41 What! Has Sheshak been taken, been conquered, the pride of the whole world? What a thing of horror Babylon has become throughout the nations!

42 The sea has risen over Babylon, she sinks beneath its boisterous waves.

43 Her towns have been turned into wasteland, a parched land, a desert, a country where no one lives and where nobody goes.

44 I shall punish Bel in Babylon and make him disgorge what he has swallowed. In future the nations will stream to him no more. The very walls of Babylon will fall.

45 Get out of her, my people; save your lives, each one of you, from Yahweh’s furious anger.

46 But do not be faint-hearted! Do not take fright at rumours hawked round the country: one rumour spreads one year, next year another follows; violence rules on earth and one tyrant succeeds another.

47 So look, the days are coming when I shall punish the idols of Babylon. Her entire country will be humbled, with all her slaughtered lying on home-soil.

48 The heaven and earth and all within them will shout for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers from the north are coming to her, Yahwehdeclares.

49 Babylon in her turn must fall, you slaughtered ones of Israel, just as through Babylon there fell men slaughtered all over the world.

50 You who have escaped her sword, leave her, do not wait! Remember Yahweh from afar, let Jerusalem come into your mind.

51 -‘We were ashamed when we heard of the outrage, we were covered in confusion because foreigners had entered the Temple of Yahweh’s holy places.’

52 -So look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall punish her idols, and the wounded will groan throughout her country.

53 Were Babylon to scale the heavens or reinforce her towering citadel, destroyers would still come to her on my orders, Yahwehdeclares.

54 The din of shouting from Babylon, of immense destruction, from the country of the Chaldaeans!

55 Yes, Yahweh is laying Babylon waste and silencing her monstrous din, whose waves used to roar like the ocean and their tumultuous voices rang out.

56 For the destroyer has fallen on Babylon, her warriors are captured, their bows are broken. Yes, Yahweh is a God of retribution, he never fails to repay.

57 I shall make her princes and her sages drink, her governors, her magistrates, her warriors; they will fall into an everlasting sleep, never to wake again, declares the King, whose name is Yahweh Sabaoth.

58 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: The walls of Babylon the Great will be rased to the ground, and her lofty gates will be burnt down. Thus peoples toil for nothing and nations wear themselves out, for the flames.

59 This is the order that the prophet Jeremiah gave to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah when Seraiah left for Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was lord chamberlain.

60 Now, on one sheet, Jeremiah had written down the entire disaster that was to befall Babylon, that is, all these words recorded here against Babylon.

61 Jeremiah then said to Seraiah, ‘When you reach Babylon, see to it that you read all these words aloud.

62 Then say, “You, Yahweh, have promised to destroy this place, so that no one will live here ever again, neither human nor animal, and it will be desolate for ever.”

63 Then, when you have finished reading this sheet, tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates,

64 with the words, “So shall Babylon sink, never to rise again from the disaster which I am going to bring on her.” ‘ Thus far the words of Jeremiah.

Lamentations 4

1 How the gold has tarnished, how the fine gold has changed! The sacred stones lie scattered at the corner of every street.

2 The children of Zion, as precious as finest gold — to think that they should now be reckoned like crockery made by a potter!

3 The very jackals give the breast, and suckle their young: but the daughter of my people is as cruel as the ostriches of the desert.

4 The tongue of the baby at the breast sticks to its palate for thirst; little children ask for bread, no one gives them any.

5 Those who used to eat only the best, now lie dying in the streets; those who were reared in the purple claw at the rubbish heaps,

6 for the wickedness of the daughter of my people exceeded the sins of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand being laid on it.

7 Once her young people were brighter than snow, whiter than milk; rosier than coral their bodies, their hue like sapphire.

8 Now their faces are blacker than soot, they are not recognised in the streets, the skin has shrunk over their bones, as dry as a stick.

9 Happier those killed by the sword than those killed by famine: they waste away, sunken for lack of the fruits of the earth.

10 With their own hands, kindly women cooked their children; this was their food when the daughter of my people was ruined.

11 Yahweh indulged his fury, he vented his fierce anger, he lit a fire in Zion which devoured her foundations.

12 The kings of the earth never believed, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy would ever penetrate the gates of Jerusalem.

13 Owing to the sins of her prophets and the crimes of her priests, who had shed the blood of the upright, in the heart of the city,

14 they wandered blindly through the streets, polluted with blood, so that no one dared to touch their clothes.

15 ‘Keep away! Unclean!’ people shouted, ‘Keep away! Keep away! Don’t touch!’ If they left and fled to the nations, they were not allowed to stay there either.

16 The face of Yahweh destroyed them, he will look on them no more. There was no respect for the priests, no deference for the elders.

17 Continually we were wearing out our eyes, watching for help — in vain. From our towers we watched for a nation which could not save us anyway.

18 Men dogged our steps, to keep us out of our streets. Our end was near, our days were done, our end had come.

19 Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the sky; they hounded our steps through the mountains, they lay in ambush for us in the wilds.

20 The breath of our nostrils, Yahweh’s anointed, was caught in their traps, he of whom we said, ‘In his shadow we shall live among the nations.’

21 Rejoice, exult, daughter of Edom, you who reside in Uz! To you in turn the cup will pass; you will get drunk and strip yourself naked!

22 Your wickedness is atoned for, daughter of Zion, he will never banish you again. But your wickedness, daughter of Edom, will he punish, your sins he will lay bare!

Lamentations 5

1 Yahweh, remember what has happened to us; consider, and see our degradation.

2 Our heritage has passed to strangers, our homes to foreigners.

3 We are orphans, we are fatherless; our mothers are like widows.

4 We have to buy our own water to drink, our own wood we can get only at a price.

5 The yoke is on our necks; we are persecuted; exhausted we are, allowed no rest.

6 We made a pact with Egypt, with Assyria, to have plenty of food.

7 Our ancestors sinned; they are no more, and we bear the weight of their guilt.

8 Slaves rule us; there is no one to rescue us from their clutches.

9 At peril of our lives we earn our bread, by risking the sword of the desert.

10 Our skin is as hot as an oven, from the scorch of famine.

11 The women in Zion have been raped, the young girls in the towns of Judah.

12 Princes have been hanged by their hands; the face of the old has won no respect.

13 Youths have been put to the mill, boys stagger under loads of wood.

14 The elders have deserted the gateway; the young have given up their music.

15 Joy has vanished from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.

16 The crown has fallen from our heads. Alas that ever we sinned!

17 This is why our hearts are sick; this is why our eyes are dim:

18 because Mount Zion is desolate; jackals roam to and fro on it.

19 Yet you, Yahweh, rule from eternity; your throne endures from age to age.

20 Why do you never remember us? Why do you abandon us so long?

21 Make us come back to you, Yahweh, and we will come back. Restore us as we were before!

22 Unless you have utterly rejected us, in an anger which knows no limit.

Proverbs 18:9-12

9 Whoever is idle at work is blood-brother to the destroyer.

10 The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the upright runs to it and is secure.

11 The wealth of the rich forms a stronghold, a high wall, as the rich supposes.

12 The human heart is haughty until destruction comes, before there can be glory there must be humility.

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