The dying Israelites (Bar 3:1-3:4)

“O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

The soul in anguish

Cries out to you!

The wearied spirit

Cries out to you!

Hear!

O Lord!

Have mercy!

We have sinned

Before you!

You are enthroned forever!

We are perishing forever!

O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

Hear now

The prayer

Of the people

Of Israel,

The children

Of those who sinned

Before you.

They did not heed

The voice

Of the Lord

Their God.

Thus calamities

Have clung to us.”

Baruch addressed God as the Lord Almighty, not simply Yahweh, the Lord, God of Israel. The anguished soul and the weary spirit cried out to God. Baruch wanted God to hear their cries and have mercy on them because they had sinned. The Lord Almighty was enthroned forever, while the Israelites were perishing forever because of their finitude. God should listen to the prayer of his people, the children of those who sinned. Their ancestors had not listened to the voice of God, so that their calamities have clung to them as fellow sinners who are the sons and daughters of sinners.

The prayer for sinners (Bar 1:13-1:13)

“Pray also for us

To the Lord

Our God!

We have sinned

Against the Lord

Our God!

To this day

The anger

Of the Lord

With his wrath

Have not turned

Away from us.”

The people with Baruch in Babylon wanted the people in Jerusalem to pray for them because they were sinners. God, the Lord, was still angry at them. He had not turned his anger away from them, even though they were in exile in Babylon.

The joy is gone (Lam 5:15-5:16)

“The joy

Of our hearts

Has ceased.

Our dancing

Has been turned

To mourning.

The crown

Has fallen

From our head.

Cursed be us!

We have sinned!”

Happiness has left the people of Jerusalem. The joy of their hearts is now gone. They have stopped dancing. They now turn to mourning. The crown of Jerusalem has fallen. They are now cursed because they were sinners.

Acknowledgment of sins (Isa 63:17-63:19)

“Yahweh!

Why do you make us stray

From your ways?

Why do you harden our hearts,

So that we do not fear you?

Return

For the sake of your servants!

Return

For the tribes of your heritage!

Your holy people took possession

For a little while.

But now our adversaries

Have trodden down your sanctuary.

We have long been

Like those whom you do not rule.

We have long been

Like those who are not called

By your name.”

The prophet acknowledges that they are sinners. However, he seems to put the blame on Yahweh who let this happen. Yahweh seems to have let them stray from his ways and harden their hearts, so that they do not fear Yahweh any longer. This prophet wanted Yahweh to return for the sake of Yahweh’s servants and the tribal heritage. His people had possession of the sanctuary for a short time, but now Yahweh’s adversaries trampled down this holy place. In the end, he admitted that they have been too long without Yahweh’s rule. They have not called Yahweh by his name.

Sinfulness (Isa 59:1-59:4)

“See!

Yahweh’s hand is not too short to save.

His ear is not too dull to hear.

But your iniquities have been barriers

Between you and your God.

Your sins have hidden his face

From you.

Thus he does not hear.

Your hands are defiled with blood.

Your fingers are defiled with iniquity.

Your lips have spoken lies.

Your tongue mutters wickedness.

No one brings suit justly.

No one goes to law honestly.

They rely on empty pleas.

They speak lies.

They conceive mischief.

They beget iniquity.”

Third Isaiah has a call for repentance since the Israelites were sinners. However, Yahweh’s hands were not too short to forgive. He could hear what they were saying. However, the obstacles and barriers to forgiveness of sin were that of his people. They have forced Yahweh to hide his face. Their sins include iniquity with bloody hands and fingers. They speak lies and mutter wickedness. No one can bring a law suit forward because no one was honest and just. All they do is speak lies, conceive mischief, and produce more iniquity.

The punishment of the Lord (Isa 13:11-13:13)

“I will punish the world

For its evil.

I will punish the wicked

For their iniquity.

I will put an end

To the pride of the arrogant.

I will lay low

The insolence of tyrants.

I will make mortals

More rare than fine gold.

I will make humans

More rare than the gold of Ophir.

Therefore I will make the heavens tremble.

The earth will be shaken out of its place.

The wrath of Yahweh of hosts

Will show his fierce anger

On that day.”

Isaiah turns to the first person singular of Yahweh to punish the whole world, in particular the evil ones. The evil, the wicked, the iniquitous, the prideful, the arrogant, the tyrants, and the insolent will all be punished. Thus human mortals will become as rare as fine gold, especially the expensive gold from Ophir. The heavens will tremble and the earth will shake like an earthquake. The wrath and anger of Yahweh will show itself on that day against human sinners. There is no doubt that this is an end time scenario.

The dark day of the Lord (Isa 13:9-13:10)

“See!

The day of Yahweh comes!

It will be cruel!

There will be wrath

With fierce anger.

He will make the earth

A desolation.

He will destroy its sinners.

The stars of the heavens

Will not give their light.

Their constellations

Will not give their light.

The sun will be dark at its rising.

The moon

Will not shed its light.”

If the preceding section was about Babylon, this is a wider apocalyptic total destruction on the day of Yahweh, a kind of dark end of time. This day of the Lord will be a cruel day with wrath and anger. The earth will become desolate as sinners will be destroyed. All the heavenly lights will be extinguished. The stars in the heavens as well as the constellations will no longer give any light. Even the rising sun will be dark, while the moon will no longer glow. This will be a time of total darkness.

The restoration of Jerusalem (Isa 1:26-1:28)

“I will restore your judges

As at the first.

I will restore your counselors

As at the beginning.

Afterward,

You shall be called

The city of righteousness.

You shall be called

The faithful city.

Zion shall be redeemed

By justice.

Those in her,

Who repent,

Will be redeemed

By righteousness.

But the rebels

Shall be destroyed.

The sinners also

Shall be destroyed

Together with them.

Those who forsake Yahweh

Shall be consumed.”

Continuing with this oracle of Yahweh via Isaiah, Yahweh was then going to restore the judges and the counselors as in former times. This indicates that the current kings were not doing a good job. Then they would be a new city of righteous and faithful ones. This righteous faithful Zion would be redeemed by justice and righteousness. The rebels and sinners would either repent or be destroyed because they both had forsaken Yahweh.

A good name (Sir 41:11-41:13)

“The human body

Is a fleeting thing.

The bad name of sinners

Will be blotted out.

But a virtuous name

Will never be blotted out.

Have regard for your name!

It will outlive you longer

Than a thousand stores of gold.

The days of a good life

Are numbered.

But a good name

Lasts forever.”

Sirach indicates that life is fleeting, but your name or reputation lasts long after you have died. The bad name of the sinners is blotted out, while the good name of the virtuous will never be blotted out. You should have regard for your name and your reputation because it will outlive you more than your gold. A good name lasts forever, even though you only last a few days here on earth.

The destiny of the impious and their children (Sir 41:5-41:10)

“The children of sinners

Are abominable children.

They frequent

The haunts of the ungodly.

The inheritance

Of the children of sinners

Will perish.

On their posterity

Will be a perpetual reproach.

Children will blame

An ungodly father.

They suffer disgrace

Because of him.

Woe to you!

The ungodly!

You have forsaken

The law of the Most High God!

If you have children,

Calamity will be theirs.

You will beget them

Only for groaning.

When you stumble,

There is lasting joy.

When you die,

A curse is your lot.

Whatever comes from earth,

Returns to earth.

Thus the ungodly go

From curse to destruction.”

Sirach draws a clear line from parent to child when it comes to sinners. The children of sinners are abominable. These children will live among the ungodly, since their inheritance will be lost. These children of sinners will blame their sinful ungodly father because they suffer a perpetual disgrace due to him. Then Sirach turns directly to these ungodly folks claiming that they have forsaken the law of the Most High God. Calamity and groaning will come to their children. When they stumble, everyone will be happy. When they die, they will receive a curse. Whatever comes from earth returns there. Thus the ungodly will go from a curse to total destruction.