The arrogant Babylonians (Jer 50:30-50:32)

“‘Therefore,

Her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed

On that day.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I am against you!

O arrogant one!’

Says Yahweh!

God of hosts!

‘Your day has come!

It is the time

When I will punish you.

The arrogant one

Shall stumble.

The arrogant one

Shall fall.

There will be no one

To raise him up.

I will kindle a fire

In his cities.

It will devour

Everything around him.’”

Yahweh proclaims that the arrogant Babylonians would suffer defeat, so that their young men would die in their town squares. Their soldiers would be wiped out. Yahweh with all his hosts and armies would be against Babylon. Their time for their punishment was coming. These arrogant Babylonians would stumble and fall, but no one would help them up. Yahweh was going to set them on fire in their cities. Everything would be devoured around them. Bad times were coming to these proud Babylonians.

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The role of the Temple (Jer 7:3-7:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Amend your ways!

Amend your doings!

Let me dwell with you

In this place.

Do not trust

In these deceptive words.

‘This is the temple of Yahweh!

The temple of Yahweh!

The temple of Yahweh.’”

The first part of this pericope sounds like the many other times that Yahweh had spoken to his people. He was the God of Israel with his hosts. The Temple visitors were to amend their ways and what they were doing. Yahweh wanted to dwell with them in his Temple. However, the second verse is a little strange. Yahweh told Jeremiah not to trust the deceptive words about the Temple of Yahweh. In fact, the statement is mentioned 3 times, “Temple of Yahweh”. Was this a reminder to enter the Temple 3 times a day? Was this against the false prophets who told them not to worry, since as long as they had the Temple everything would be fine? Is it a rebuke to those who just loved the majesty and beauty of the Temple? This triple cry about the Temple of Yahweh as deceptive words is not really clear.

Invitation to repent (Sir 17:25-17:32)

“Turn back to the Lord!

Forsake your sins!

Pray in his presence!

Lessen your offenses!

Return to the Most High!

Turn away from iniquity!

He will lead you out of darkness

To the light.

Hate intensely

What he abhors!

Who will sing praises

To the Most High

In Hades?

In place of the living,

Who gives thanks?

From the dead,

As from one who does not exist,

Thanksgiving has ceased.

Those who are alive and well

Sing the Lord’s praises.

How great is

The mercy of the Lord!

His forgiveness is

For those who return to him!

Not everything is within human capability.

Since human beings are not immortal.

What is brighter than the sun?

Yet it can be eclipsed.

Flesh and blood devise evil.

He marshals the host of the height of heaven.

But all human beings are dust.

All human beings are ashes.”

Much like the later John the Baptist, Sirach here is calling for all to repent. Turn to the Lord! Give up sinning! Pray to the Lord! Turn to the Most High! Turn away from iniquity! No one can sing the praises of the Lord from Hades, the home of the dead. Only the living can give thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. The Lord is merciful. He will forgive those who return to him. Humans have limited capacities, since they are not immortal. Even the bright sun gets eclipsed. Flesh and blood humans devise evil because they are mere dust and ashes. However, the Lord has his hosts in the high heavens.