The splendor of Yahweh (Ezek 1:28-1:28)

“Like the bow

In a cloud

On a rainy day,

Such was the appearance

Of all the splendor

All around.

There was the appearance

Of the likeness

Of the glory

Of Yahweh.

When I saw it,

I fell upon my face.

I heard the voice

Of someone speaking.”

Ezekiel seemed to think that this vision was like a rainbow in the sky on a rainy day. With such great splendor all around him, there appeared to be the glory of Yahweh. This glory of Yahweh referred to his presence, but outside the Temple of Jerusalem. When Ezekiel saw all this, he fell upon his face to the ground. Then, finally, after all this description of the vision, he heard the voice of someone speaking. Now this colorful vision of Ezekiel will have the traditional oral communication, as opposed to this visual delight.

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We were sinners also (Bar 1:21-1:22)

“We did not listen

To the voice

Of the Lord,

Our God,

In all the words

Of the prophets

Whom he sent to us.

But all of us followed

The intent

Of our own wicked hearts

By serving other gods,

Doing what is evil

In the sight

Of the Lord,

Our God.”

Following the bad example of their ancestors, the Israelites and Judeans did not listen to the voice of the Lord, their God, even when he sent his prophets to tell them about their wicked hearts. They all followed their own wicked ways, instead of following the Lord. They served other gods. They did evil right in front of the Lord, their God.

The sinful ancestors (Bar 1:19-1:20)

“From the time

When the Lord

Brought our ancestors

Out of the land of Egypt

Until today,

We have been disobedient

To the Lord,

Our God.

We have been negligent,

In not heeding

His voice.

So to this day,

There have clung to us

The calamities,

The curse,

That the Lord declared

Through his servant

Moses

At the time

When he brought

Our ancestors

Out of the land of Egypt

To give us

A land flowing

With milk and honey.”

The Lord brought their ancestors out of Egypt. However, even from the beginning of this relationship, their ancestors were negligent, not listening to the voice of God. They would rather be cursed and live in calamity than follow their God. Moses his servant was clear. God was going to lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. How many times have you heard that? Their ancestors had set the stage for the later disobedience and negligence towards God.

The shameful prayer (Bar 1:15-1:18)

“You shall say.

‘The Lord,

Our God,

Is in the right.

There is open shame

On us today,

On the people of Judah,

On the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

On our kings,

On our rulers,

On our priests,

On our prophets,

On our ancestors.

Because we have sinned

Before the Lord.

We have disobeyed him.

We have not heeded

The voice

Of the Lord,

Our God,

To walk

In the statutes

Of the Lord

That he set

Before us.”

Baruch told them how to pray. They were to say that they were ashamed because the Lord their God was right. However, it was just not the exiles, but the people in Judah and Jerusalem, along with their kings, rulers, priests, prophets, and their ancestors who had sinned. They had disobeyed and not heeded the voice of the Lord their God. They had not followed the laws that the Lord set before them.

They all go to Egypt (Jer 43:4-43:7)

“So Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

With all the people,

Did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

To stay in the land of Judah.

But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

Took all the remnant of Judah,

Who had returned

To settle in the land of Judah

From all the nations

To which they had been driven.

This included

The men,

The women,

The children,

The princesses,

As well as everyone

Whom Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had left with Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

This also included

The prophet Jeremiah

With Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

They came into the land of Egypt.

They did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

They arrived at Tahpanhes.”

Jeremiah recounts that Johanan with all his commanders did not obey the voice of Yahweh to stay in Judah. They then took all the remnant of those people who had returned to Judah from the other countries to be with the former governor of Judah, Gedaliah. Thus they took the men, women, children, with the royal princesses and all those that the Babylonian captain Nebuzaradan had handed over to Gedaliah to take care of. This group also included Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. They all ended up at the Egyptian border town of Tahpanhes. Interesting enough, Jeremiah, who loved Babylon, went to Egypt instead. It did not take 40 years to go from Israel to Egypt in this reverse Exodus.

They will obey Yahweh (Jer 42:5-42:6)

“They in turn said to Jeremiah.

‘May Yahweh be a true witness!

May Yahweh be a faithful witness

Against us,

If we do not act

According to everything

That Yahweh

Your God

Sends us through you.

Whether it is good or bad,

We will obey

The voice of Yahweh

Our God,

To whom we are sending you,

So that it may go well

With us

When we do obey

The voice of Yahweh

Our God.’”

The leaders and the group of those remaining from the land of Judah proclaimed to Jeremiah that Yahweh would be a true and faithful witness against them, if they did not act according to everything that Yahweh would say to Jeremiah. It did not matter whether it was good or bad, they would obey the voice of Yahweh as interpreted by Jeremiah. They wanted things to go well with them, so that they were willing to listen to the voice of Yahweh, their God. Yahweh was no longer Jeremiah’s God, but their God also.

The Promised Land failure (Jer 32:22-32:23)

“You gave them

This land!

You swore

To their ancestors

To give them

This land!

This was a land

Flowing with milk

And honey!

They entered it.

They took possession of it.

But they did not obey

Your voice.

They did not follow

Your law.

Of all that you commanded

Them to do,

They did nothing at all.

Therefore you have made

All these disasters

Come upon them.”

Jeremiah’s prayer continues with Yahweh overseeing the Promised Land.   Yahweh had promised their ancestors this wonderful land that was flowing with milk and honey, rich and easy to till. Once they entered and took possession of this land, they did not obey the voice or law of Yahweh. Instead of following the commandments of Yahweh, they did nothing. Thus Yahweh sent disasters to this Promised Land.