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22 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 —Lamentations 4

Study 4 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 4

1.     Make a list of the statements in this chapter which emphasize the extraordinary severity of the divine judgment.  Notice how all the classes of the community are affected.  What is the particular cause here assigned for so great a calamity? Cf. Je. 23:9-14.
2.     With verse 17, cf. Je. 2:36, 37; 7, 8; and with verse 20, cf. Ps. 146:3, 4; Je. 17: 5, 6.
1.     Verse 6a. Note the variants in mg.
2.     Verse 20. A reference to King Zedekiah; cf. Je. 39:4-7

21 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Lamentations 3

Study 3 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 3

1.     In verses 1-20 the poet, speaking in the name of the community, pours out his heart ‘like water before the presence of the Lord’ (2:19). Notice the change from the minor to the major key at verse 21. What causes it? Do the psalmists’ experiences in Pss. 42:1-5 and 73:16, 17a provide a clue?
2.     Consider how remarkable is the appearance here, in verse 22-42, of such a noble expression of assurance concerning God’s mercies. What aspects of God’s character are most emphasized in these verses, and what should be our attitude of mind an spirit in time of affliction or chastisement? Cf. Joel 2:12-14. Why is it both foolish and wrong for a man to complain and murmur in time of chastisement (verses 37-39)? Cf. Je. 5:19-24; Pr. 19:3.
3.     In verses 43-54 the poet, in the name of the people, again pours out his heart before the Lord and, having done so, is strengthened to pray again, and receives comfort.  What is his prayer (verses 55-66)? What factors in the poet’s situation might lead us not to judge this prayer for requital too harshly?
1.     Verse 20. An alternative reading is, ‘Thou wilt surely remember and bow down to me’ (Gottwald)
2.     Verse 38.  The word ‘evil’ is used here in the sense of misfortune or calamity. Cf. Am. 3:6; Is. 45:7.
3.     Verse 63. Cf. Jb. 30:9

20 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Lamentations 2

Study 2 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 2

Verses 1-9 deal particularly with the devastation of buildings in Judah and Jerusalem, and the rest of the chapter with the sufferings of various classes of the inhabitants.
1.     Try to imagine the desolation here portrayed and the intensity of the people’s sorrow. Cf. 1:12. What is said of God’s right hand in verses 3:4?  Contrast with this such passages as Ex. 15:6, 12: Pss. 63:8; 139:10.
2.     What evidence in this chapter suggests that already the disaster of the judgment is having one of its intended effects? Cf. 2 Ch. 7:13, 14. Are we, as God’s children, as sensitive as we ought to be to His disciplinary dealings?
1.     Verse 2 ‘Habitations’: i.e., country dwelling as opposed to ‘strongholds’.
2.     Verse 4. ‘Tent’ here denote the city.
3.     Verse 6a refers to the Temple. ‘He has broken down his tabernacle like a garden hut’ (Gotwald)
4.     Verse 22a. Instead of summoning worshipers to a festival, God has called together ‘terrors on every side’, so that none of His people escaped. Cf.Is

19 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Lamentations 1

Study 1 From the Book of Lamentations is: Lamentations 1
Verses 1-11 depict the covenant people in the guise of a widow.  The second half of the chapter is a lament by the desolate widow herself.
1.     What ingredients make up Jerusalem’s cup of sorrow, e.g., loneliness, bereavement, reversal of fortune, etc.? Make a list of them. How and why had Jerusalem come to such a pass? See especially verse 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 17, 18, 20; and cf. Heb. 10:29-31; Lv. 26:27-33.
2.     Do you find any note of resentment in this complaint? ‘The sense of tragedy is heightened by the recognition that it was avoidable.’ What is commendable in the attitude of this chapter? Note verse 18, and cf. Ps. 51: 3, 4; Dn. 9:6-8; Rom. 3: 4-6.
1.     Verse 2. ‘Lovers… friend’s i.e., neighboring peoples with whom the had sought alliance. Cf. Je. 30:14
2.     Verse 6. ‘Her princes…’: cf. Je. 39:4, 5.

18 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — Introduction to Lamentations Book

Study 0 From the Book of Lamentations is: Introduction to Lamentations

The book of Lamentations consists of five songs or elegies, the theme of which is the sorrows of Judah and Jerusalem in the siege and destruction of the city.  The cause of these calamities is traced to the sin of the people bringing God’s judgment upon them, and the songs contain confessions of sin, statements of faith and hope, and prayer for the restoration of God’s favour.
Tradition from the time of the Lxx has assigned the authorship of the songs to the prophet Jeremiah.  In the Hebrew Bible, however, the book is anonymous, and is placed not among ‘The Prophets’, but in the section known as ‘The Writings’. The book certainly has close affinities with Jeremiah. Chapter 1-4 seem to be the work of an eye-witness of Jerusalem’s fall; and if not by Jeremiah himself, may well be the work of one of more of his associates, such as Baruch. Chapter 5 probably dates from a slightly later period.
The songs are written in acrostic form. In chapters 1, 2 and 4 each verse begins with a fresh letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. In chapter 5 the acrostic form is not followed.  This acrostic arrangement is partly an aid to memorization, but also seems intended to give a sense of completeness in confession of sin and grief.  

17 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 35 — Jeremiah 51:59 – 52:34

Study 35 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 51:59 – 52:34

With this study, we end the book of Jeremiah. Tomorrow we will start with the book of Lamentations.
1.     51:59-64. Note the date of this incident.  AT the time, Babylon was rising to the height of her power and glory, and Jeremiah was convinced that she would enjoy complete supremacy over the nations. See chapter 28 which belongs to the same year.  How, then, does this commission which Jeremiah gives to Seriah illustrate the truth of Heb. 11:1, that ‘faith is…the conviction of things not seen’?
2.     Chapter 52 is very similar to the 2 Ki. 24:18-25:30. It tells once more the story of the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the captivity of the people, perhaps to emphasize how complete was the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words.  For example, compare verse 3 with 7:15; verse 6 with 14:15-18; verses 8:11 with 34:3; verse 13 with 7:14; 9:11; 19:13; 32:28, 29; verse 15 with 16:9-13; 21:9; verses 18, 19 with 27:19-22. See 1:12. Do you believe this, and live by it?
Note. 52:24. ‘The three keepers of the threshold’: denoting three high officials of the Temple who had charge of the three gates.

16 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 34 — Jeremiah 51: 1-58

Study 34 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 51: 1-58

This chapter may be divided as follows: Babylon’s doom and Israel’s vindication (verses 1-10); summons to the attackers to press home their assault (verses 11-14); The Lord in contrast to idols (verses 15-19); the Lord’s fierce anger against Babylon (verses 20-26); capture of the city (verses 27-33); Israel’s wrong avenged: let her hasten her escape (verses 34-57); summing up God’s judgment upon Babylon (verse 58).
1.     In the time of her prosperity the idols of Babylon seemed powerful and mighty; but now in the hour of her fall how do they appear? See verses 15-19, and cf., 1, 2; Ps. 146: 5-10
2.     What, according to chapters 50 and 51, were the sins of Babylon which called down upon her such terrible vengeance? How far are these sins prevalent in the world today?
1.     Verse 1. Note mg. The Hebrew means literally ‘the heart of those who rise up against me’.
2.     Verse 3a. The Hebrew is difficult. Either it means that the defenders of Babylon need not trouble to fight, for it will be of no avail (cf. verse 30; 31:4; 32:5b); or the text is to be amended, e.g., by omission of the negatives.
3.     Verse 20. A reference to Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon.
4.     Verse 27. ‘Ararat, Mimi and Ashkenaz’ were three peoples north of Babylonia earlier conquered by the Medes.
5.     Verse 36. ‘Her sea’: perhaps a reference to the great lake Nebuchadrezzar constructed for the defence of the city, or perhaps to the Euphrates.
6.     Verse 55a. ‘Her mighty voice’: i.e., the noise of the great city. Verse 55b refers to the roar of the attackers.
7.     Verse 58c. ‘So ends the toil of nations, ends in smoke, and pagans waste their pains’ (Moffatt).

15 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 33 — Jeremiah 49:34 – 50:46

Study 33 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 49:34 – 50:46

Elam was a country north of the Persian Gulf and east of Babylon. This prophecy, delivered soon after the first deportation from Judah om 597, no doubt warns the exiles against expecting relief from this direction. Jeremiah looked ahead, beyond the judgment of which Babylon was to be the instrument, to the time when Babylon herself would be judged. Chapter 50  may be divided as follows: Babylon’s falls (verses 1-3); a message of comfort to Israel (verses 4-7); attackers to begin their work (verse 14-16); Israel’s return to her land and to her God (verses 17-20); the attackers bidden to press on (verse 21-28, 29-34, 35-40); description of the attackers (verses 41-46).
1.     Why are God’s people to be restored?
2.     Consider the solemn truth that, while God may use a nation as His instrument, this does not absolve that nation from responsibility before God. Why would Babylon receive no mercy? See especially verses 7, 11-15, 24-25, 27-29, 31; Is. 14: 5, 6, 17; 47:6, 7; 51:22, 23; La. 1:7.
1.     50:2. ‘Bel’ and ‘Merodach’ are names of the supreme god of Babylon.
2.     50:7. Cf. 40:3.
3.     50:16. A reference to foreigners in Babylon. Cf. 46:16 and Note.
4.     50:21. ‘Merathaim’ (perhaps a name for southern Babylonia) and ‘Pekod’ (a people of eastern Babylonia) are probably used here because they are very close to the Hebrew words for ‘double rebellion’ (or ‘bitterness’) and ‘punishment’ (or ‘visitation’) respectively.
5.     50:36a. Cf. Is. 44:25

14 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 32 — Jeremiah 49:1-33

Study 32 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 49: 1- 33

This chapter contains prophecies on four neighbouring nations, namely Ammon (verses 1-6), Edom (verses 7:22), Damascus (verse 23-27, and Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor (verses 28-33). Ammon was concerned along with Moab in the two incidents mentioned in the introduction to chapter along with Moab in the two incidents mentioned in the introduction to chapter 48. Antagonism between Israel and Edom was long standing, and Edom had recently taken advantage of the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC to occupy cities in southern Judah (Ob. 10-14). Edom had also considered revolt against Babylon (27:3). Kedar was a nomadic Arabian tribe, and Hazor is probably used collectively of the region occupied by semi-nomadic Arabs (cf. 25:23, 24).
1.     What was Ammon’s sin against Israel? Cf. Am. 1:13; Ex. 20:17; Lk. 12:15. In what was her trust placed? Cf. 48:7; Pr. 10:28; Mk. 10:23, 24. What was to be her punishment?
2.     Notice the vivid metaphors describing the severity of Edom’s fate, as e.g., in verses 9, 10, 19, 20. Note, too, its comprehensiveness, from Teman and Bozrah in the north, to Dedan, south of Edom in Arabia. Why is the judgment against Edom (Essau’s descendants) so severe? Cf. verse 16; Mal 1:2-4; Heb. 12:16, 17.
3.     The sins that brought judgment upon Damascus and Kedar are not specified. Read again 25:15-38, and note the reasons given there for judgment upon nations mentioned in this chapter.
1.     Verses 1, 3. ‘Milcom’ was the national deity of the Ammonites.  The Ammonites took advantage of the deportation of the Gadites by the Assyrians in 733 Bc (2 Ki. 15:29).
2.     Verse 3.  The word ‘daughters’ here refers to towns and villages which looked to Rabbah as their head. In verse 4 ‘daughter’ refers the whole people.
3.     Verse 8. ‘Dwell in the depths’: i.e., hidden away from observation. Cf. verse 30.
4.     Verse 17. ‘Hiss’ i.e., draw in the breath with astonishment, gasp.
5.     Verse 19, 20.  The picture of a lion coming up out of the jungle on the fringe of Jordan and doing what pleases with the flock, no shepherd being able to challenge him.

13 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 31 — Jeremiah 48

Study 31 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 48

Within Jeremiah’s lifetime, Moab was in league with the Chaldeans against Judah during Jehoiakim’s reign (2 Ki. 24:2; cf. Je. 12; and later, in Zedekiah’s reign discussed with other nations a possible revolt against Babylon (27:1-11).
1.     The chapter may be divided into five sections: verses 1-10, verses 11-20, verses 21-27, verses 28-39, verses 40-47. What heading would you give to each of these sections to sum up its contents?
2.     What reason for the judgment is given in verse 11? What warning should we take for ourselves? Cf. Dt. 8:11-18; Is. 47: 8-11; Am. 6:1-7; Zp. 1:12. What other reasons for the judgment are set forth in this chapter.
1.     All the numerous places-names refer to Moabite territory. Some have not been identified, including ‘madmen’ (verse 2; the lxx reads ‘Yet you, i.e., Moab, shall be brought to silence’).
2.     Verses 7, 13. ‘Chemosh’: the god of Moab. ‘Bethel, their confidence’: see Am. 5:5; 10-13 for false worship at Bethel. Bethel means ‘house of God’, and there may be present also an allusion to false trust in the Temple; see Je. 7:1-15.
3.     Verses 11, 12. An illustration from the treatment of the juice of grapes.  It is left in a vessel until a sediment called ‘lees’ has formed at the bottom; then the liquid is poured into another vessel, and so repeatedly, until the liquid is clear. Moab had experienced no such purifying process, and so retained its original unrefined character.
4.     Verse 26. ‘Make him drunk’ : i.e., stagger with shock and despairing grief. Cf. 13:13; 25:16.

12 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 30 — Jeremiah 46 and 47

Study 30 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 46 and 47

46:1 Introduction chapters 46-51. Chapter 46 falls into three sections: verses 2-12 (description of Egypt’s bid for power and defeat by the Chaldeans at Carchemish); verse 13-26 (prophecy of Nebuchadrezar’s invasion of Egypt; and verses 27, 28 (a message of comfort for Israel: see these verses in their original setting at 30: 10, 11). Chapter 47 prophesies the Chaldean conquest of Philistia.
1.     Read each section aloud, perhaps in Moffat’s translation, to catch the rhythm and force of these utterances. What is the relation of the God of Israel to the clash of these mighty powers? Cf. 46:10, 15, 25-26; 47:4, 6, 7. Note that God’s chosen people is not directly involved. Cf. Am. 9:7; Is. 40:15, 17, 23; 41:2. What does this tell of God’s control of the history of all the nations of the world, even if that control is hidden from our sight? Cf. Ps. 22:28.
2.     How is Egypt described (a) before the battle, (b) after it, and (c) during the invasion? Compare all this with there boast in 46:8, and read again 9:23-26.
1.     46:9. ‘Put, and ‘Lud’ were African tribes of uncertain location
2.     46:15. ‘Apis’: i.e., the sacred bull of Egypt, the supposed incarnation of Osiris.
3.     46:16. ‘’And they said”: the reference must be to foreign settlers or traders in Egypt, or to foreign mercenaries (verse 21).
4.     46:18. ‘Like Tabor…like Carmel’: i.e., ‘towering above’ the nations.
5.     46:22. The fleeing Egyptians are likened to a snake gliding away before the woodcutters, i.e., the invading armies from the north.
6.     46:25. Thebes was the famous capital of Upper Egypt, and Amon its local god.
7.     47:1. ‘Before Pharaoh smote Gaza’: it is uncertain when Necho smote Gaza.  The lxx omits the phrase.
8.     47:4. ‘Caphtor’ is the name used of Crete, the original home of the Philistines, and also of the neighbouring coastal regions which came under its control.
9.     47:5. ‘Baldness’ and ‘gash yourselves’ are tokens of mourning. Cf. 16:6. The ‘Anakim’ were among the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine.

11 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 29 — Jeremiah 44 and 45

Study 29 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 44 and 45

This is the last recorded scene of Jeremiah’s life. The now aged prophet, exiled in Egypt, visits some place where his fellow-countrymen are gathered and delivers a last message from their God, a message which they resolutely reject, thus drawing upon themselves their own destruction. Chapter 45 is a much earlier fragment, belonging, to the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see Note on 36:8)
1.     How would you sum up Jeremiah’s message in 44:2-14? What was the spiritual condition of the people as revealed in their reply (cf. 17:9; Is. 44:20)? And what was God’s final word to them, through His servant?  Cf. 1 Jn. 5:21.
2.     44: 17, 18, 21-23. Here are two divergent interpretations of Judah’s recent past. Outwardly, at least, there seems much to support to the idolaters’ standpoint. Since Josiahs’ reformation Judah had experienced nothing but trouble and calamity. Could outward events alone adjudicate between these two interpretations? Is there always an immediate correspondence between godliness and prosperity? Cf. Ps. 73.
3.     Chapter 45. Baruch was the son of a princely house.  His brother Seriah held an important office under the king (see 51:59), and he himself probably had ambitions (45:5).  His work for Jeremiah would reveal to him the doom of the city and the kingdom. What were his natural reactions? What was God’s message to him, and what may we learn from it for ourselves? Was Baruch’s distress greater than the Lord’s in having so to deal with His people (verse 4)? Cf. Mk. 10:42-45; Mt. 10:24, 25a.
1.     44:1. The three cities represent Jewish settlements in northern Egypt, and Pathros was the name given to Upper (i.e., southern) Egypt.
2.     44:17. ‘The queen of heaven’: see Note on 7:18 

10 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 28 — Jeremiah 42 and 43

Study 28 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 42 and 43
1.     It is clear that the remnant of the people left in the land were obsessed by fear-fear of the Chaldeans (42:11) and fear of famine (42:16).  From both these evils Egypt appeared to offer a secure place of refuge (42:14). But, what did God say they ought to do? And what did He say would happen to them if they went to Egypt?
2.     Why did the people, in spite of their promise to obey God, take a wrong course? What did they lack spiritually that they failed to badly? Read carefully 42:20, 21 (see note 1 below), and cf. Mt.15:7, 8, Heb. 3:18, 19. What does this teach us about our attitude in seeking to know the will of God? Note 42:6. Are we guilty of making up our mind in advance? Cf. 43:2.
3.     Over against the people and their failure contrast the character of Jeremiah. God had made the same promise to him that He now made to these Hebrews (see 1:18, 19); but how different was the response in Jeremiah’s case?  What are the outstanding features that you observe in Jeremiah in these chapters?
1.     42:21. Jeremiah anticipates the reply they were about to make in their fixed resolve to seek refuge in Egypt. Perhaps during the interval (verse 7) preparations for flight had been in hand.
2.     43:7.’Tahpanhes’ was on the eastern branch of the Nile not far from the Mediterranean.
3.     43: 10-13. Nebuchadrezzar did invade Egypt before two decades were out.

09 May, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 27 — Jeremiah 39-41

Study 27 From the Book of Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 39-41

The fall of Jerusalem and the events immediately following.
1.     What message did Jeremiah give to Ebed-melech, and why? Cf. Mt. 10:40-42. Is your faith equally practical? Cf. Jas.  2:21-24.
2.     Note Carefully 40:2-3. Could the matter be better summed up than in these words of a heathen officer? Cf. Pr.29:1; Is. 30:9-14.
3.     Most Christians are too ready to believe evil of others. Gedaliah was the opposite. What can we learn from this example?
1.     39:3. ‘Rabsaris’ means chief of the princes; and ‘Rabmag’, chief of the magi.
2.     39:4. ‘Between the two walls’: i.e., of the city, probably ‘the wall along the west side of the east hill, and along the east side of the west hill’ (Driver).
3.     39:5. ‘Riblah’: in the far north, fifty miles south of Hannath.
4.     41:1. Ishmael was probably jealous that Gedaliah had been appointed governor, and sought to get the remnant of the Jews under his control (41:10).