The final judgment for humans (Zeph 1:17-1:18)

“I will bring

Such distress

Upon the people

That they shall walk

Like the blind.

They have sinned

Against Yahweh.

Their blood

Shall be poured out

Like dust.

Their flesh

Shall be

Like dung.

Neither their silver,

Nor their gold,

Shall be able

To save them

On the day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.

In the fire

Of his passion,

The whole earth

Shall be consumed.

He will make

All the inhabitants

Of the earth

A full end,

A terrible end.”

Very clearly the end was coming.  There would be so much distress among humans that they would be walking around as if they were blind.  They had sinned against Yahweh, so that their blood would be poured out like dust, while their bodies would be like smelly dung.  Their silver and gold would not save them from Yahweh’s day of wrath, because Yahweh’s angry passion would consume the whole world, including all the people living on it.  The end times was near.

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The response to the trumpet blast (Ezek 33:4-33:5)

“Then if anyone

Who hears the sound

Of the trumpet

Does not take the warning,

The sword comes.

The sword takes them away.

Their blood shall be

Upon their own heads.

They heard

The sound

Of the trumpet,

But they did not

Take the warning.

Their blood shall be

Upon themselves.

But if they had taken warning,

They would have saved

Their lives.”

What were you to do when the trumpet sounded? If anyone heard the sound of the trumpet about the impending coming of the enemy with the sword, and did pay attention to this warning, it was his own fault. When the sword came, and took them away, their blood would be on their own heads, since they had not heeded the warning of the trumpet blast. If they had taken the warning from the sentinel’s trumpet, they could have saved their own lives.

The final punishment (Ezek 21:29-21:32)

“They offer false visions

For you.

They divine lies

For you.

They place you

Over the necks

Of the vile wicked ones.

Their day has come.

The time of final punishment

Has come.

Return it to its sheath!

In the place

Where you were created,

In the land of your origin,

I will judge you.

I will pour out

My indignation

Upon you,

With the fire

Of my wrath.

I will blow

Upon you.

I will deliver you

Into brutish hands,

Those skilful to destroy.

You shall be fuel

For the fire.

Your blood

Shall enter the earth.

You shall be remembered

No more.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

These unfaithful ones offer false visions and lies. The vile wicked ones will be over their necks. The day of final punishment has come. They have returned their swords to their sheaths. Yahweh was going to judge them in the place where they were created, the land of their origins. Yahweh was going to pour out his indignation upon them with the fire of his wrath. He was going to blow upon them. He was going to deliver them into skilful brutish hands that would destroy them, so that they would become fuel for the fire. Their blood would fall on the earth. No one would remember them. Yahweh has spoken clearly.

The day of retribution for Yahweh (Jer 46:10-46:12)

“That day is

The day of Yahweh!

God of hosts!

A day of retribution

To gain vindication

From his foes!

The sword shall devour!

The sword shall be sated!

The sword shall drink

Its fill of their blood!

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Holds a sacrifice

In the land of the north

By the Euphrates River.

Go up to Gilead!

Take balm!

O virgin daughter Egypt!

In vain,

You have used

Many medicines.

There is no healing for you.

The nations have heard

Of your shame.

The earth is full

Of your cry.

The warrior has stumbled

Against warrior.

They have both fallen together.”

The day of reckoning for Yahweh was the defeat of Egypt. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh are pro-Babylon and anti-Egypt. This will be a day of retribution and vindication against Yahweh’s foes. The sword will devour them and drink their blood, like a sacrifice in this land north of the Euphrates River. This virgin daughter Egypt would find it useless to seek any medicines to cure her. Not even the balms of Gilead would help Egypt. There will be no healing. Everyone would have heard of their shame and their cries. Their warriors have stumbled against each other as they fell.

The shamed Israelites (Jer 2:33-2:37)

“How well you direct your course

To seek lovers!

So that even to wicked women

You have taught your ways.

Also on your skirts is found

The lifeblood of the innocent poor.

You did not catch them breaking in.

Yet in spite of all these things,

You say.

‘I am innocent.

Surely his anger has turned from me.’

Now I am bringing you to judgment

For saying.

‘I have not sinned.’

How lightly you gad about

Changing your ways!

You shall be put to shame by Egypt

As you were put to shame by Assyria!

From there also

You will come away

With your hands

Upon your head.

Yahweh has rejected those

In whom you trust.

You will not prosper through them.”

The Israelites were seeking new lovers. They were teaching them their ways. They seem not to care about the innocent poor people, since they had their blood on their skirts. Yet they continued to proclaim their innocence. They thought that Yahweh was no longer angry with them. However, Yahweh was going to bring judgment upon them for saying that they had not sinned. They keep gadding about on their frivolous ways.   They were going to be put to shame by Egypt and Assyria so that they would walk out with their hands on their heads as prisoners. Yahweh has rejected them and their leaders so that they would not prosper.

Day of vengeance (Isa 63:4-63:6)

“‘The day of vengeance was in my heart.

The year of my redeeming work had come.

I looked!

But there was no helper.

I stared!

But there was no one to sustain me.

So my own arm brought me victory.

My wrath sustained me.

I trampled down people in my anger.

I crushed them in my wrath.

I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’”

This had been the day of vengeance and the year of redemption of Yahweh. No one was there to help. No one was there to sustain him. Only his own arm brought victory. His wrath and anger sustained him as he trampled down people. He crushed them, as he poured out their blood on the earth. This was the day of revenge when the angry God alone crushed people.

Unacceptable sacrifices (Sir 34:21-34:27)

“If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods,

The offering is blemished.

The gifts of the lawless

Are not acceptable.

The Most High is not pleased

With the offerings of the ungodly.

He does not forgive sins

For a multitude of sacrifices.

Like one who kills a son,

Before his father’s eyes,

Is the person

Who offers a sacrifice

From the property of the poor.

The bread of the needy

Is the life of the poor.

Whoever deprives them of it

Is a murderer.

To take away a neighbor’s living

Is to commit murder.

To deprive an employee of his wages

Is to shed blood.”

There are some sacrifices that are not acceptable to the Lord. Sirach points out that stolen or ill-gotten goods sacrificed are blemished and thus unacceptable. Even good gifts from the lawless and the ungodly will not be acceptable. A lot of sacrifices do not forgive sins. If you sacrifice the property of the poor, you are like a person killing a son before his own father. The bread of the poor is needed for their life. You are a murderer when you take bread from the poor. If you take away the living of your neighbor, you are a murderer. To deprive anyone of their wages is like shedding their blood. In other words, to steal from the poor or take away their livelihood is like murdering them.