Saturday, March 17, 2012

The promised land mourned for her people!

How pricelessly worded! 

I've been reading through the NET Bible that I have recently purchased. Every now and then, when I don't have my Bible before me, I will pull it up on the Internet and read from there. When you do this, between the Old and New Testaments, you will find the Deutero-Canonicals / Apocrypha books (these are books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate, but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament). And in this thus far incomplete list of books, you'll find the Book of Baruch.

The book of Baruch are words that Baruch wrote in Babylon, written at the time that the Chaldeans overthrew Jerusalem and set it on fire. It was read to God's chosen people that had been carried off by their enemies to Babylon because they had sinned against the Lord by rebelling to do what He had commanded them to. Chapter 4 writes what is called "A Poem of Comfort"... and it is written as if the land of Jerusalem herself were writing it to her people that had left her. And reading it while thinking of all those that I work with in prison, its words impacted with a whole greater meaning. I cannot tell you how precious these words were in the very vivid picture they painted. I thought I'd share it here.. thinking that you'd read them and hear them and feel them as precious too! Read them as they were meant for you to, hear the words from the Promised Land to her Chosen People, God's prized possessions, that had been taken from her. Hear her grief and the wisdom she gives her children and her encouragement to them. Her reminder of what they'd done, why they were taken... and more importantly, her reminder that they were God's(!) and, that being His, God would bring them back!

"4:5 Be courageous, my people!
You are the ones who preserve the name of Israel!

4:6 It was not for your destruction that you were sold to the nations.
You were delivered over to your adversaries because you had stirred God to anger.

4:7 For you provoked your Creator by offering sacrifices to demons rather than to God.

4:8 You forgot the Eternal God who nourished you;
you grieved Jerusalem which reared you.

4:9 For when she saw the wrath of God that was about to befall you, she said,
"Listen, neighbors of Zion,
God has brought great mourning upon me.

4:10 For I witnessed the captivity of my sons and daughters,
which the Eternal One has brought upon them.

4:11 For I nourished them with gladness, 
and I sent them out with tears and mourning.

4:12 Let no one malignantly rejoice over me,
the widow who is bereft of so many.
I was left desolate because of the sins of my children,
for they have turned away from God's law.

4:13 They have not acknowledged His ordinances,
nor have they gone in the ways of God's commandments,
nor have they walked in the correct paths determined by His righteousness.

4:14 Let the neighbors of Zion come and remember the captivity 
of my sons and daughters,
which the Eternal One has brought upon them.

4:15 For He has brought against them a nation from afar,
a shameless nation speaking a foreign language,
who shows no respect for old age nor mercy for childhood.

4:16 They have led away those beloved by this widow;
they have left me bereft of my daughters.

4:17 But for my part, how can I help you?

4:18 For it is the One who has brought these misfortunes 
who must rescue you out of the hand of your enemies.

4:19 Go on, my children, go your way!
For I am left desolate.

4:20 I have taken off the robe of peace,
and I have put on sackcloth for my petition.
I will cry out to the Eternal One for the rest of my days.

4:21 Be courageous, my children.
Cry out to God, 
and He will rescue you from domination at the hand of your enemies.

4:22 For I have placed my hope in the Eternal One for your salvation.
Joy has come to me from the Holy One 
for the mercy that will quickly come to you from your Eternal Savior.

4:23 For I sent you out with mourning and weeping,
and God will return you to me with delight and gladness forever.

4:24 For just as at the present time the neighbors of Zion have seen your captivity, 
so they will soon see your deliverance from God,
which will come to you with great glory 
and with the splendor of the Eternal One.

4:25 My children, patiently endure the wrath that has come upon you from God.
Your enemy has persecuted you,
but you will soon see their destruction,
and you will place your foot on their necks.

4:26 My spoiled children have traveled rough roads.
They have been carried away like sheep snatched by enemies.

4:27 Be courageous, children, and call out to God.
For the One who brought this upon you will remember you.

4:28 For just as your minds were given to wandering away from God,
turn now with tenfold sincerity to seek Him.

4:29 For the One who has brought these misfortunes upon you 
will bring you everlasting gladness along with your deliverance.

4:30 Be courageous, O Jerusalem.
The One who named you will comfort you.

4:31 Those who have treated you badly and rejoiced at your downfall are fearful.

4:32 The cities that enslaved your children are fearful;
she who took your sons is fearful.

4:33 For just as she rejoiced over your downfall and was glad over your disaster,
so she will be grieved over her own desolation.

4:34 I will remove from her the rejoicing of the crowds,
and her insolence will be reduced to mourning.

4:35 For fire will come upon her from the Eternal One,
lasting for a long time;
she will be inhabited by demons for a long time.

4:36 Look to the east, O Jerusalem!
See the gladness coming to you from God.

4:37 Look! Your sons whom you sent away are coming back,
being gathered from east to west by the Word of the Holy One,
rejoicing in the glory of God."

Wow! Like I said! Priceless!!! I love the faithfulness of our Father! Though He disciplines, He will never unlove His children! Though He allows the enemies that pursue to take them captive because of their rebellion... that is NOT the end of His fight! He, too, pursues! And He fights (when we've gone astray) to bring us back!

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