2 Notes

Jeremiah 11-20

Note: I have almost always formatted this blog with a single chapter being the subject of a single post. This was done not only so that I made sure to focus on each and every chapter, but also so that if someone wanted to view the commentary on a single chapter in a book, they could easily find that chapter. You may have noticed though that during Psalms, I began commenting on and summarizing ten chapters at a time, although each chapter still got an individual commentary. Now with Jeremiah I find that most of the material so far is so similar in nature that it would actually be more efficient to summarize multiple chapters at once, instead of delving into each individually. That is not to say though that I’m suddenly not being as thorough in my commentary or research, just that this will make more sense given the nature of the material.  Depending on the number of total chapters in a given book going forward, and the subject matter within, I think I will go back and forth between these three ways of formatting everything.  I’m still experimenting here so if you have any concerns or suggestions, please let me know.

Jeremiah 11-19

The Book of Jeremiah thus far has been one repeated message from God to his chosen people. The message is very clear: Israel and Judah have committed grave sins against God, specifically idol worship, and God can’t take it any more. His patience has officially run out. God is so upset with his people that he says, “…even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me…” God wouldn’t stop his wrath against them.

God spends a lot of time describing the punishments that he will unleash on Israel and Judah for their transgressions. These range from God pulling “…up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen…” to death by famine, sword, and disease. God even says that his people will resort to cannibalism as a result of these punishments, “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters…” and no one will be “mourned or buried,” with God bringing “…an end to the sounds of joy and gladness” there.

All of this is contrasted when God explains to his people a way out, “Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.”

Jeremiah 20

After Jeremiah finished prophesying all of the things I mentioned above to the people, he was beaten and “put in the stocks” by a chief officer named Pashhur. Jeremiah is not pleased with this at all as you can imagine. The following day, Jeremiah is released, and he issues a dark prophesy against Pashhur: “For this is what the LORD says:” that Pashhur will see with his own eyes his friends dying by the sword, his country being handed over to the Babylonians, and finally that Pashhur and all his household will go into exile.

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Notes

I'm a children's bible teacher so I am very literal. Reading the text with an understanding that people do whatever they want and God allows it for a while...helps with understanding the text. God is still allowing these sort of things to go on in our world today but will some day put an end to it. I like your very open and inquisitive reading of the text.

Asked by Anonymous

Thank you.

Notes

Jeremiah 1-10

Jeremiah 1

We are introduced to a prophet named Jeremiah. One interesting thing right off the bat with Jeremiah is his claim that God told him that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This goes back to the whole free will/predestination debate. If we have free will to steer our lives however we wish, how would God have “known” Jeremiah before he was even born?

Jeremiah 2

Jeremiah 2 continues what Isaiah was basically all about and what chapters upon endless chapters here in the Old Testament have been about: idol worship. It is a never-ending rant with hundreds of chapters devoted of God chastising the Israelites and threating or describing punishments. I would say it’s a good thing that God is always talking about this in a way to get his people to come back to him, but at the same time, reading an almost identical chapter hundreds of times is getting very cumbersome.

Jeremiah 3

Again, God talks about idol worship. God says that he even sent a “certificate of divorce” to Israel because of how many times she cheated on him with idols. And Judah was doing the same thing. But God expresses his hope that they both will return to him.

Jeremiah 4

God tells Israel and Judah that if they return to him and throw away their idols that he will bless them, but if they do not, his “wrath will break out and burn like fire.”

Jeremiah 5

It’s just an endless loop: God discusses how he will punish the people for idol worship if they don’t stop doing it.

Jeremiah 6

God talks about how he has stirred up a nation from the north to come and attack his people due to their idol worship and other sins.

Jeremiah 7

God promises his people that if they will return to him and act justly that he will protect them.

Jeremiah 8

Idol worship, punishments, idol worship, punishments…

Jeremiah 9

God feels bad for punishing, but its something he feels he has to do, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.”

Jeremiah 10

Idol worship and the punishments for it. Repeat.

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Notes

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1-10

Jeremiah 11-20

Jeremiah 21-30

Jeremiah 31-40

Jeremiah 41-52

Final Thoughts on the Book of Jeremiah

Notes

Final Thoughts on the Book of Isaiah

It’s hard to know where to begin when writing my Final Thoughts on Isaiah. Having reached the end of the book, I can’t help but be relieved. It was a little difficult to get through. Isaiah’s prophecies are often cryptic and hard to follow. There seemed to be a lot of prophecy about Jesus. There also seemed to be a never-ending loop of God talking about idol worship and punishment. I can’t say that I got much out of the Book of Isaiah. There wasn’t much in the way of plot or narrative; I just simply feel indifferent about it. On to the next.

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Notes

Isaiah 61-66

Isaiah 61

Isaiah talks a little about himself, talking about how God has sent him to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Isaiah 62

Some words concerning the future of the city of Jerusalem: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.”

Isaiah 63

Isaiah has been pretty difficult to follow. Chapter 63 is about a man who’s garments are “stained crimson.” I can’t tell what his significance is.

Isaiah 64

Isaiah begs God to come down to Earth, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!”

Isaiah 65

God talks some more about what Heaven will be like, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”

Isaiah 66

I can’t deny that I’m happy to be done with Isaiah. More thoughts about it up next in the “Final Thoughts.”

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Notes

Isaiah 51-60

Isaiah 51

God asks his people why they even fear their human oppressors “who are but grass” when they have God, the creator of the universe, on their side.

Isaiah 52

Are the last few verses a prophecy of Jesus? “Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness— so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.”

Isaiah 53

Okay, this one has to be about Jesus. I say this because Isaiah talks about a man who “…was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” I found it interesting that his physical appearance is described a little, which must be a very rare occurrence: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Isaiah 54

I’m not sure I really understand what’s going on with this one. God addresses barren women, saying, “…you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Is he saying that its better for the women who don’t have kids than it is the ones who have a husband and have kids? I’m confused.

Isaiah 55

In debates with others about religion, I’ve heard this phrase found here in Isaiah 55 a number of times, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This argument is usually brought up when I bring something up that’s negative or that I have a question about that they can’t answer. When they bring this phrase up they seem to be saying that since God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than we human beings, we can’t even begin to understand his reasoning behind what he does. If that’s true, how can we be certain about anything God says or wants?

Isaiah 56

Some good stuff: “Maintain justice and do what is right” and “Blessed is the man who…keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Isaiah 57

Once again, God expresses his hate of idol worshippers and his hope that his people will return to him.

Isaiah 58

God addresses those people who go through the motions of worshipping him, but don’t live their lives according to what they preach. He says that these people will fast, expecting then to hear from God, but after fasting, they go right back to fighting with each other and being selfish. God says to “share your food with the hungry,” “provide the poor wanderer with shelter” and when you see the naked, to clothe him” then God will bring out your light.

Isaiah 59

Isaiah 59 talks about how when God surveyed the earth, he was “displeased that there was no justice” and “that there was no one to intervene” so “his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.”

Isaiah 60

God talked about making Israel glorious and everlasting.

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1 Notes

Isaiah 41-50

Isaiah 41

God talks about how he will protect Israel and Jacob, the “descendants of Abraham my friend.” He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced.”

Isaiah 42

God calls his prophet into “righteousness.” God says that he will “…take hold of your hand” and “…will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people.” This is so that he will “…open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

Isaiah 43

God continues talking to Jacob and Israel saying, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isaiah 44

God criticizes those who worship idols. God asks why someone would gather up some wood, use some of it for simple things like building a fire and making bread over it, and then use the rest of the wood to carve an idol that they then bow down and worship as a god. He asks, how can some of the wood have only a little value, while the rest of it supposedly becomes a god?

Isaiah 45

This phrase from this chapter stuck out to me, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” This reminds me of other verses like Exodus 4:11 which says, “The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”

It’s interesting to me because God is saying directly that he is the one who causes disasters and it is he who causes people to be deaf or blind. I thought that these sort of things were explained to be consequences of the fall and/or of sin. It’s a little disheartening because, why would God want someone to be deaf or blind? Why would God want to cause tsunamis or hurricanes to take innocent lives?

Isaiah 46

This chapter brings up some questions about the predestination/free will debate. God says directly, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” If God knew everything that would happen all the way until the end of time at the very beginning, how can he be surprised by anything? How do we have free will? Why was he surprised about what Adam and Eve did, or why did he flood the earth in Noah’s time, knowing what would become of both situations in the beginning?

Isaiah 47

God has some harsh words for the “Daughter of the Babylonians.” God says that her arrogance will be her downfall, and not any of her sorceries or the “stargazers” she hangs out with will be able to protect her.

Isaiah 48

"There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked." So that’s where that phrase comes from.

Isaiah 49

Isaiah 49 is interesting because its one of the first instances (that I can remember) of God talking about extending his salvation to not just Israel or Judah, but also the rest of the world. “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 50

Isaiah describes himself in some detail saying, “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.“

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1 Notes

Isaiah 31-40

Isaiah 31

Isaiah 31 is another warning to the Israelites to stop trusting in Egypt and to trust only in God.

Isaiah 32

I think this is a prophecy concerning what Heaven will be like. Isaiah describes a time when “rulers will rule with justice,” and “No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected.” Also, “the desert becomes a fertile field” where “justice will dwell” and “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” And finally, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

Isaiah 33

Another prophecy, I think, of what Heaven will be like. The person who makes it there will have their “bread supplied, and water will not fail him.” They will see with their own eyes “the king in his beauty” and “a land that stretches afar.” This place will have “broad rivers and streams” and no one living there will ever get sick.

Isaiah 34

This one is a very detailed account of the destruction God will bring on the land of Edom.

Isaiah 35

Another prophecy of Heaven: first, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will “shout for joy” and the lame will leap “like a deer.” Then the desert will flow with water and a highway called “the Way of Holiness” will be placed there, which no unclean person or wild animal will journey on. The holy people will walk on this highway until they enter the city of Zion, where “Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Isaiah 36

Isaiah 36 is essentially a repeat of what occurred in 2 Kings 18. Read my comments on that chapter here.

Isaiah 37

This chapter is essentially a repeat of what occurred in 2 Kings 19. Read my comments on that chapter here.

Isaiah 38

This chapter is essentially a repeat of what occurred in the first part of 2 Kings 20. Read my comments on that chapter here.

Isaiah 39

This chapter is essentially a repeat of what occurred in the second part of 2 Kings 20. Read my comments on that chapter here.

Isaiah 40

God is described here as sitting “…enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” It’s almost as if the writer of this passage thought that the earth was flat and that God was watching everyone down below on the flat surface from up in the sky.

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1 Notes

Isaiah 26-30

Isaiah 26

Isaiah describes a song that “will be” sung in Judah. It is a song of praise to God, with lyrics like, “We wait for you God and yearn for you,” or “Other kings have ruled over us, but they have all died, so your name alone do we honor.” The song finishes with the sentiment that, eventually, God will “come out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.” Once that occurs, the “dead will live; their bodies will rise.”

Isaiah 27

Isaiah 27 talks about how God will “punish with his sword” a monster of the sea named Leviathan, which is apparently a large serpent. Again, this reminds me of Greek mythology. Unless this is somehow metaphorical, how could any animal stand up to God’s infinite power? Why did God create this beast in the first place if it later needed to be destroyed by him? 

Isaiah 28

Apparently, Ephraim has some serious drunks in it, and Isaiah is not happy about it. Isaiah notes how even “priests and prophets” “stagger from beer” and that “all the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.” Because of this, God will punish the city.

Isaiah 29

I have heard a phrase from Isaiah 29 before. In verse 16, it says, “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing?’” In a discussion about God, someone once quoted this to me. I assume they took it to mean, how can you even question God, when he’s the one who made you? But isn’t that sort of a cop out? Why shouldn’t we have questions and discussions?

Isaiah 30

Isaiah 30 is a warning to those people at the time that sought out Egypt’s help instead of God’s.

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Notes

Isaiah 25

I apologize for the long wait in between chapters recently. I’ve recently gotten out of a long relationship and the business I work at is closing in a month, so I’ve been busy trying to figure out exactly what I want to do going forward (maybe moving to London to live for a few years and get a degree!) 

Isaiah 25 seems to me to be a premonition of the day the world ends, and what it will be like to go to Heaven. First, God will prepare a feast for every one featuring, “the best of meats and the finest of wines” (notice the “finest of wines” part there – I’m sort of surprised that there might be some getting a little tipsy on the first night in Heaven.) Secondly, God will “swallow up death forever.” And finally, God will “wipe away the tears from all faces.”

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1 Notes

Submission

I’m also currently rereading the Bible from start to finish and wanted to see if you came up with some of the same questions I’ve posed in the margins of my text. I grew up in an evangelical household and while I still profess a faith, I am disturbed by evangelical Christianity. I’m finding myself increasingly angry as I read scripture (granted I’m still in the Old Testament). The treatment of women, the continual sacrifices of animals, the violence, the blood, the rapes, etc.—all lay heavy on my mind. I just don’t understand and feel a great deal of confusion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your honesty and questioning. I feel that I don’t have anyone to talk to about my qualms.

I know the feeling. Feel free to continue along with me on this journey and also to write in. There are many of us here that you can talk to about what you’re going through. 

Notes

What Bible version do you use and do you use commentaries to study the Bible?

Asked by Anonymous

I use the New International Version and I do consult some commentaries such as the MacArthur Study Bible.

Notes

Read some of your thoughts on the book of Ecclesiastes and would like to relay some information to you. The Teacher is king Solomon and if his words seem secular its because he has an under the sun type of thinking, meaning earthly without regards to the heavens above. He sought to find the meaning of life through the eyes of a common man. This book adds a wordly perception to the Bible and sort of acts as a balancing factor. Solomon answers and poses questions that God knew we had in our heart.

Asked by Anonymous

Notes

On "Song of Solomon" (SoS)...I recently was looking up SoS, and I came across a website. It talks about the book SoS being a parallel between Jesus and the Church. I'll be looking more into it too (after sleep and work. haha), but I also was wondering what you thought about that...

Asked by Anonymous

That’s an interesting interpretation, but my opinion is that it is not a parallel between Jesus and the Church. SoS is overtly sexual in nature, which would be a little weird if it was supposed to be talking about Jesus and the Church. Also, the story is just too straight forward. Finally, God isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book, which again, if it was supposed to be a parallel between Jesus and the Church, you’d think there’d be something about God in there.