The future exile (Mic 4:9-4:10)

“Now why do you cry aloud?

Is there no king in you?

Has your counselor perished?

Have pangs seized you

Like a woman in labor?

O daughter Zion!

Writhe!

Groan!

Like a woman in labor!

Now you shall go forth

From the city.

You shall camp

In the open country.

You shall go to Babylon.

There you shall be rescued.

There Yahweh will redeem you

From the hand of your enemies.”

Yahweh, via Micah, wanted to know why the people were crying.  They had a king and a counselor.  However, they were having labor pains, as if they were pregnant.  Yahweh told them to cry, groan, and contort like a pregnant woman because something bad was going to happen to them.  They were going to have to leave their city to camp in the open country.  They were going to go to Babylon.  There Yahweh would rescue and redeem them from their enemies.

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The plight of Jerusalem (Jer 4:30-4:31)

“You!

O desolate one!

What do you mean

That you dress in crimson?

Why do you deck yourself

With ornaments of gold?

Why do you enlarge your eyes

With paint?

In vain,

You beautify yourself.

Your lovers despise you.

They seek your life.

I heard a cry

Like a woman in labor.

I heard a cry

Of anguish,

Like one bringing forth

Her first child.

This was the cry

Of the daughter Zion

Gasping for breath.

She was stretching out her hands.

‘Woe is me!

I am fainting

Before killers.’”

Jeremiah took on desolate Jerusalem that put on crimson dresses and golden ornaments. She painted her eyes to make them look larger. She was ready to party, but she beautified herself and gussied up in vain. In fact, her lovers wanted to kill her. Jerusalem was also like a woman in childbirth labor pains, much like a woman giving birth to her first child, which is always more difficult. She was gasping for breath. She stretched out her hands, realizing that she was fainting before her killers. Jerusalem was about to go down also.

The sudden birth of a nation (Isa 66:7-66:9)

“‘Before she was in labor,

She gave birth.

Before her pain came upon her,

She delivered a son.

Who has heard of such a thing?

Who has seen such things?

Shall a land be born in one day?

Shall a nation be delivered in one moment?

Yet as soon as Zion was in labor

She delivered her children.

Shall I open the womb?

Shall I not deliver?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Shall I,

The one who delivers,

Shut the womb?’

Says your God.”

The birth or rebirth of Jerusalem will be miraculous. It will be like a woman who gives birth to a son before she has labor pains. Has anyone heard or seen such a thing? Can a country or nation come into existence in a moment? Yet Zion will deliver her children. Who would open her womb? Who would try to shut her womb? Yahweh, the great deliverer, will not shut the womb, but deliver Jerusalem and Israel in a new birth.

False childbirth (Isa 26:16-26:18)

“O Yahweh!

In distress,

They sought you.

They poured out a prayer

When your chastening way

Was on them.

Like a woman with child,

Who writhes,

Who cries out in her pangs,

When she is near her time,

So were we

Because of you!

Yahweh!

We were with child!

We writhed!

But we gave birth

Only to wind!

We have won no victories

On earth.

No one is born

To inhabit the world.”

Isaiah, once again, speaking directly to Yahweh, the Lord, sought him in his distress. He and his friends felt like they had the pains of childbirth. They felt like they were filled with labor pains, but there was no child to be born. They only passed gas, not a new born child. They had no victories on earth. There were no new children to inhabit this earth.