Listen up (Joel 1:2-1:3)

“Hear this!

O elders!

Give ear!

All inhabitants of the land!

Has such a thing happened

In your days?

Has such a thing happened

In the days

Of your ancestors?

Tell your children of it!

Let your children

Tell their children!

Let their children tell

Another generation!”

Joel began, like many of the other prophets, by asking the people to listen. He wanted the elders and all the people of the land to listen. He was going to talk about a rare event that had happened. He wondered whether it had happened in the days of their ancestors. He wanted them to tell their children about this, so that their children might tell another generations about this great event.

The people lack knowledge (Hos 4:6-4:6)

“My people

Are destroyed,

For lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected

Knowledge,

I reject you

From being

A priest to me.

Since you have forgotten

The law of your God,

I also will forget

Your children.”

The main objection against the priests is that they have not educated the people of Israel. The people lack knowledge because the priests and prophets have rejected knowledge themselves. These same priests had forgotten the law of God. Therefore, Yahweh was going to forget their children.

The king destroys his Bel priests and their families (Dan 14:21-14:22)

“Then the king

Was enraged.

He arrested

The priests,

Their wives,

With their children.

They showed him

The secret doors

Through which they

Used to enter

The temple.

They would consume

What was on the table.

Therefore,

The king

Put them

To death.

He gave Bel

Over to Daniel.

Daniel destroyed it.

He destroyed also

Its temple.”

The king was very upset. He arrested the priests, their wives, and their children. These priests showed the king the secret door that they used to get into the temple to eat the food on the table. Thus, the king put them to death. He even let Daniel destroy the idol god Bel and its temple. Once again, good overcame evil. Thus, Daniel showed his great power, by eliminating the great idol god Bel along with its temple.

Daniel’s accusers were put in the lion’s den (Dan 6:24-6:24)

“The king

Gave a command.

Those men,

Who had accused Daniel,

Were brought to him.

He threw them

Into the den of lions.

He not only threw them,

But their children,

With their wives.

Before they reached

The bottom

Of the den,

The lions

Overpowered them.

The lions broke

All their bones

Into pieces.”

In a reversal of fortunes, which is common among the biblical writings, like in Esther, chapter 6, the conspirators and their families were put into the lion’s den. Before they hit the bottom of the den, the lions had overpowered them, their children, and their wives. All their bones were broken into pieces. The moral of the story is not to be a conspirator.

The defilement of the people (Ezek 20:30-20:31)

“Therefore say

To the house of Israel!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Will you defile yourselves

After the manner

Of your ancestors?

Will you go astray

After their detestable things?

When you offer

Your gifts,

You defile yourselves.

When you make

Your children

Pass through the fire,

You defile yourselves

With all your idols

To this day.

Shall I be consulted

By you?

O house of Israel!

As I live,

I will not be consulted

By you.’ Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to say to the house of Israel that they should not defile themselves like their ancestors. They should not go astray after their detestable idols. When they offered gifts to these idols, they defiled themselves. When they made their children pass through fire, they also defiled themselves with all their idols. They had been doing this even until the time of Ezekiel. Yahweh wanted to know if he should be consulted by those from the wicked house of Israel. Yahweh was clear. He did not want to be consulted by those who had defiled themselves.

The famine in Jerusalem (Ezek 5:16-5:17)

“I will let loose

Against you

My deadly arrows

Of famine.

These are the arrows

For destruction.

I will let them loose

To destroy you.

I will bring more and more

Famine upon you.

I will break your staff

Of bread.

I will send famine.

I will send wild animals

Against you.

They will rob you

Of your children.

Pestilence

With bloodshed

Shall pass

Through you.

I will bring the sword

Upon you.

I!

Yahweh!

Have spoken!”

Yahweh said that he was going to let loose his deadly arrows against Jerusalem. He was going to hit them with the arrows of famine. This would destroy them. He was going to bring more and more famine to them. He was going to break their staff of bread, their basic staple food. He was going to send wild animals against them and their children. Pestilence and bloodshed would pass through them like a sword. There was no question, Yahweh had spoken.

Cannibalism (Ezek 5:10-5:10)

“Surely,

Parents shall eat

Their children

In your midst.

The children shall eat

Their parents.

I will execute judgments

On you.

Any of you

Who survive,

I will scatter

To every wind.”

This ideal of cannibalism in Jerusalem was attested by Jeremiah, chapter 19, and Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, and now here in Ezekiel. Parents would eat their children, while children would eat their parents in this situation of starvation in Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to execute his judgments on those who survived. These survivors would be scattered to the four winds in every direction.

The return of the exiles (Bar 5:5-5:9)

“Arise!

O Jerusalem!

Stand upon the height!

Look toward the east! See your children

Gathered from the west,

Gathered from the east, At the word

Of the Holy One! They are rejoicing

That God has remembered them. They went out from you

On foot.

They were led away

By their enemies.

But God will bring them

Back to you.

They will be carried in glory

As on a royal throne.

God has ordered

That every high mountain

With the everlasting hills

Will be made low.

The valleys will be filled up

To make level ground.

Thus Israel may walk safely

In the glory of God.

The woods

With every fragrant tree

Have shaded Israel

At God’s command.

God will lead Israel with joy,

In the light of his glory,

With the mercy,

With the righteousness

That comes from him.”

This author concludes this book of Baruch with a call to Jerusalem to arise and stand tall. They were to look to the east to see their children, both from the east and west, returning and rejoicing because God had remembered them. They went out on foot, led away by their captive enemies. However, they would return as if carried in glory on a throne. Every high mountain and hill would be leveled, while the valleys would fill up, to make a level ground so that they could walk safely in the glory of God. The fragrant trees of the woods would shade them. God would lead them with the joy and the light of his glory that comes from his mercy and righteousness.

The day of destruction for the Philistines (Jer 47:3-47:4)

“At the noise

Of the stamping

Of the hoofs

Of his stallions,

At the clatter

Of his chariots,

At the rumbling

Of their wheels,

The parents do not

Look back

For children.

Their hands are so feeble.

The day is coming

To destroy

All the Philistines.

They will be cut off

From Tyre and Sidon,

From every helper

That remains.

Yahweh is destroying

The Philistines,

The remnant

Of the coastland

Of Caphtor.”

The Philistines were going to hear the hoofs of the stallions of these invaders. They would hear the noise of the rumbling chariot wheels. Parents would not turn back to save their children, because their own hands would be too weak. The Philistines would be destroyed, since they were cut off from any help from the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. Yahweh was going to destroy the remnant of the coastal people, who may have come from the island of Caphtor or Crete.

The return from exile (Jer 32:37-32:39)

“See!

I am going to gather them

From all the lands

To which I drove them

In my anger,

In my wrath,

With great indignation.

I will bring them back

To this place.

I will settle them

In safety.

They shall be my people.

I will be their God.

I will give them one heart

With one way.

Thus they may fear me

For all time,

For their own good,

As well as the good

Of their children after them.”

Yahweh was going to restore the Israelites back in their land. He was going to gather them from all the countries that they had been scattered to, when he was angry, wrathful, and indignant over their behavior. They would be settled in the Promised Land to live safely. They would be his people. He would be their God. This phrase shows the strong love of God for his people. They would have one heart and one way of doing things. They would fear him all the time, for their own good as well as the good of their children to come. Happy days were ahead.