Babel / Babylon, part 4.

The Prophet weeps over the idols.

Jeremiah chapter 44:

Verse 30; God surrenders Egypt into the hands of Babylon.

Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.

Here we see an image of the king of the north and the king of the south, and this indicates what will happen in the future as well. If we first isolate the ancient Egypt, the type, and look at what they stood for a long time ago, we see this. Egypt was the first nation in the world to question the existence and legality of God by Pharaoh saying to Moses: … … Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go, Exodus 5,2. In other words, Egypt is the image of all nations that either deny or want nothing to do with God the Creator. In Daniel 11 we find the story of the king of the north and the king of the south. The king of the south is the antitype of ancient Egypt who questioned the Creator, Daniel 11,5-6.

The king of the south has over time absorbed philosophy, atheism, philosophy, evolution, secularism, humanism, existentialism and more, yes all these isms that are not in the religious segment. The king of the north, on the other hand, which is diametrically opposed to the king of the south, will therefore absorb all religions. This is merism, and in time the two extremes will unite under one king, whom the Bible tells us is the king of the north. There will thus be a spiritual war on two levels at the same time. The king in the north and the king in the south are fighting over who should govern the mindset of the people. Should the religious king of the north win or the atheist king of the south win. At the same time, both of these kings are trying to fight God’s faithful remnant who will not be dictated neither by the king of the north nor the king of the south. Daniel 11,27 says: And both these kings’ hearts [shall be] to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end [shall be] at the time appointed.

When the king of the north defeats the king of the south, Daniel 11,40, the battle against God’s faithful remnant will intensify, Daniel 11,41.

Ezekiel chapter 8:

Verses 14-18: The abominations of the temple.

Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house which [was] toward the north; and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of man? turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’s house, and behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, [were] about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence and have returned to provoke me to anger and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, [yet] will I not hear them.

It is a very harsh judgment on the Jewish worship and the Jewish traditions that have developed over the years in Israel and Judea. This is what Ezekiel puts his finger on in this sequence. The question is whether there is anything better with the Christian church in our time. Since the church was founded by Jesus’ disciples on the day of Pentecost in the year 31 and until the last of them died around the year 105, the church was largely pure and free of human traditions. Although it is mentioned in several of the letters in the New Testament, it was not apostasy that was the biggest problem the early church had to contend with. But then, after John was laid to rest, what Ezekiel 8 deals with fully began to penetrate into the church. Now the abominations came, and probably in a number far beyond what the house of Judah stood for.

As we saw under the heading The power of seduction; the idols in part 1 of Babel / Babylon, the church has introduced a lot of pagan rituals and human traditions and calls them Christians. Pagan rituals and human traditions will never become Christian in the biblical sense.

Some of what the Roman Catholic Church introduced after 538 is: as infant baptism in the 6th century, sacrament of penance (so-called tariff penance) in the early 6th century, the doctrine of the eternal pain in hell 543, the purgatory 593, the Mass in the 7th century, the last oil in the 8th century, holy water 850, canonization of the dead 995, celibacy for priests 1074, relic and image worship (finally determined) in the 11th century, rosary prayer in the 12th century, sale of indulgences in the 12th century , Mary’s Immaculate conception 1140, worship of the host (communion bread) 1217 and the immortality of the soul. and the Inquisition to name a few.

The wise King Solomon was absolutely right when he said: The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1,9

God judges:

Jeremiah chapter 25:

Verse 12; Limited punishment for Judah.

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, [that] I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the year 605 BC. conquered Judea and Jerusalem and took some of the people captive to Babylon, but the city was not laid in ruins. The next time Nebuchadnezzar was in Judea was in the year 597. At that time he brought some more with him into captivity, but even now Jerusalem was not laid waste. Then, in 586, Nebuchadnezzar returned and led the rest of the people, except the poorest, into captivity to Babylon, and now the city was completely laid in ruins. We should not think so much about the year in this connection, but about the fact that the punishment God has imposed for Judah’s sins is limited. Jeremiah 29,10 says: For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. But it actually took only 66 years from the conquest of Judea by Babylon until the conquest of Babylon by Medo-Persia, from 605 to 539. The 70 years of Babylon had expired, but the prophecies had not yet been fulfilled.

In Daniel 9,2 we read that it would be seventy years after Jerusalem was in desolations before God would punish Babylon for their iniquities against God and God’s people: In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. As stated above, Jerusalem was laid in ruins in the year 586 BC. This means that the prophecy in Daniel 9,2 must relate to this year.

Thus, Jerusalem was besieged three times, and three times a decree was issued for the return of the Jews. The first decree came in the year 539, the same year that Cyrus conquered Babylon, the second decree came in the year 516, 70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, but neither of these two decrees led to the complete restoration of Jerusalem and the temple. The third decree was given in the year 457 BC. Then the city and the temple were finally restored. As always, we must take into account that God is a gracious God, and that His will must be fulfilled according to His perfect plan.

It came to a point when Babylon’s iniquity was full, and it happened when King Belshazzar took the holy vessels of gold and silver from the temple in Jerusalem and drank wine from them. By doing this, the king of Babylon had crossed an invisible border, and they could no longer continue. This, in turn, enabled God’s people to return to the Promised Land.

It is the same thing that Abraham heard when God made a covenant with him: And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full. Genesis 15,13-16.

Israel would thus be slaves in Egypt until the iniquity of the Amorites was full.

Now the journey home began for the Jews who wanted to return home from Babylon. This eventually became a three-part journey home that was allowed by three different kings by three different decrees, a) first by Cyrus (Dareios) in 539, b) then by Darius I the Great in 516 and finally c) by Artaxerxes in 457. However, it was only a few of the Jews who returned home. Most of them chose to stay in Babylon and Mesopotamia, and this has a clear parallel to our time and should be a lesson to us.

The type is: God promised to take the Jews home after the Babylonian captivity was over. God kept His word, but only a few wanted to follow God’s will.

The antitype is: God has also promised to take us home after our captivity in modern-day Babylon is over. The question is just how many want to obey God and follow His will.

The judgment of the nations.

Verses 13-38;

In these verses we see that God first judges his own people, and after a while he leads them home to the promised land. Then the judgment of the peoples begins. Now those who have mistreat God’s people will be judged. This is also stated in verses 18 to 26, where God’s people are first judged – this time to a captivity in Babylon, and then set free to return home. Then the judgment falls on those who mistreat God’s faithful remnant. But before God judges, He always conducts an investigation, and He does not act until He has given the people He will judge many opportunities to repent. And God always begins with his people, which is a principle we find in the Bible, including here in 1 Peter 4,17 where Peter talks about the end times: For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?

There are many who would argue that this part also applies explicitly to the Jews and their Babylonian captivity, but as we see from verses 19 to 26, God mentions all the peoples whom He will judge, and many of these peoples no longer dominated the world at that time, so the text itself implies something more.

Since 1844, God’s judgment has been going on in heaven, and when this is done, Jesus will return to read aloud and execute judgment on His faithful people. For as Peter says for the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God. The wicked will die at Jesus’ return, but their final judgment will not be read and executed until after a thousand years when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit with the holy angels and great multitude of saved. We then see that the type that was given in connection with the captivity of the Jews and the return from Babylon is fulfilled for God’s remnant in the end times by the antitype following exactly the same pattern as the type.

God’s people are literally being taken prisoner in modern-day Babylon. God has told His end-time people that He will deliver them from their captivity and bring them home. This happens when Jesus returns to redeem His faithful people. But before that, an investigative judgment will be given in heaven, and it is primarily against those who call themselves Christians, or God’s people. When Jesus returns, all the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and together with the little faithful remnant that lives in the end times, they will be taken to the promised land, the heavenly Canaan. After a thousand years, the wicked will receive their final judgment.

Jeremiah chapter 28:

Verses 1-17; God will judge false prophets.

False prophets are a phenomenon that has existed since time immemorial, and they will be with us until Jesus comes again. In Deuteronomy 18,15-22, we are warned against false prophets, and God pronounces judgment on them. Jeremiah 23,9-40 also focuses on false prophets, and here it is said that they are even in the house of God. In Matthew Jesus warns of false prophets (7,15; 24,11.24), Paul and Barnabas met a false prophet on the island of Paphos (Acts 13,6), Peter tells us that false prophets appeared among the people (2 Peter 2, 1), John says that many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4,1) and finally in Revelation we find false prophets mentioned in connection with the church at the end of this world history (Revelation 16,13; 19,20; 20,10).

In this chapter, Jeremiah 28, two different prophets are set against each other, Jeremiah and Hananiah. Jeremiah was chosen by God to rebuke the king and the people of Judea, to warn them of the destruction that was coming from the north and ask both people and king to turn to the Lord. Jeremiah 1,5 tells us when God chose Jeremiah: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Hananiah was probably a product of one of the many prophetic schools that existed at that time and had gained access to the court around the king. Hananiah prophesied what the king wanted to hear, and that was that God would break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar within two years. History tells us that Hananiah was a false prophet. When some prophesied in the name of God without being chosen by God for this work, there was always a judgment. Hananiah died the same year he prophesied what the king wanted to hear – what itched in his ear.

Shemaiah the Neclamite and all his seed were cut off from the people because he prophesied (preached) apostasy from the Lord: Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the LORD; because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD., Jeremiah 29,32

Even in our day there are false prophets, but they are not punished with immediate death as in the time of Jeremiah. In Revelation 19,20 we find the false prophet mentioned. Here, the false prophet is an image of the fallen church, those who ally with Rome, churches or individuals in all denominations who prophesy out of self-interest will, even if they live long and are well and prosper in earthly life, they will finally face the second death.

Jeremiah chapter 29:

Verses 15-32; Judgment of the unfaithful.

This passage in Jeremiah, chapters 28 and 29, is from the time Zedekiah reigned in Judea. Zedekiah reigned from 597 to 586. 597 was the second time Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and 586 was the year when the Babylonian soldiers destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. It should not have come as a surprise to God’s people neither what happened to Israel (Samaria – the ten-tribe kingdom) or to Judah when Moses told the people that this could happen if they fell from God and began to worship foreign gods, when they stood just outside the borders of Canaan 800 years earlier. We can read about this in Deuteronomy 28,15-68. But Israel had no more than crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land before the apostasy began, and it went in waves for over 800 years before God had to punish his people.

We see throughout history that God is patient with all sinners, not just Israel or the Jewish people, but He is not indulgent with them. In Genesis 15,16 we find an example of this when God had made a covenant with Abraham. We read in the first verses of this chapter that God makes this covenant with Abraham and that Abraham sacrifices a heifer, a goat, a ram, a dove and a young pigeon. Then we come to verses 13-16 which say this: Then the LORD said to him, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.

First, God says that the descendants of Abraham will become slaves in a foreign land, which we know was Egypt, and then tell that He will free them from captivity and bring them back to the promised land. But there was an important point that had to be met before this could happen. The sin of the Amorites must reach its full measure.

Just as God was patient with the Amorites and waited four generations to see if they would repent and turn to Him, so God was patient with Israel and Judah. As for Judah, He gave them 800 years to improve, to repent completely and turn to God, and to become the people God wanted them to be. The people fell and rose many times, but in the end, the wickedness of Judah was also complete, and Nebuchadnezzar was used to punish the people by taking them captive to the land of Shinar. With the Christian church, God has shown even greater patience since the apostasy began early in the second century. God is just waiting for the fallen church to turn from its evil journey. But if she does not repent, the punishment will also come upon the fallen church in the end times as well as on Judea in Jeremiah’s time.

After parts of Judea’s population had been taken captive to Babylon in 605 BC. the apostasy continues among them, despite the fact that they felt on their bodies that the prophecies of Jeremiah were true and came from God. It is clear from the text of Jeremiah 29,15 that false prophets also appeared in captivity: You may say, The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon.

Admittedly, now both Daniel (605) and Ezekiel (597) had been taken captive, and both of these were prophets of the Lord who preached both comfort and repentance. Other named prophets, such as Shemaiah, were not sent by God and they incited the people against God and God’s will and the people would rather listen to false prophets instead of those whom God had sent specifically to warn Judea.

Both the people of Israel (Samaria) and the people of Judah (the Jews) were sent into captivity because they had been unfaithful to God for a long time. Apostasy and infidelity date back to the time they conquered Canaan after Moses led them out of Egypt: But they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 1 Chronicles 5,25

Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, Ezekiel 14,13.

It is not just in the past that God punished disobedient people. It will happen sometime in the near future as well, something Daniel especially tells us, (Daniel 2,34.44; 7,22.26-27; 8,14.25; 12,1-2). It is then crucial that we learn from what happened in the past, from the time of Noah with the flood until the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD. when the rest of the Jews were forced to leave Judah.

Ezekiel chapter 8:

Verses 1-13; The infidelity of God’s people.

What was it that God’s people did that was so terrible that He calls it abomination and infidelity? So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel, Ezekiel 8,10.

What does it mean that the idols of the house of Israel were engraved on the walls inside the house of God? I think that means that over time Israel had adopted many pagan gods in the form of insects and abominable animals and had mixed this into their belief – a typical syncretism. In addition to these idols that were introduced into their belief, Ezekiel saw that the women of Judah wept over Tammuz, who is a Babylonian god (verse 14), and that 25 of Judah’s elders / priests worship to the east, i.e. they worship the sun (verse 16).

2 Kings 23,7: 2 Kong 23,7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites*, that [were] by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.

2 Chronicles 33,5: And he** built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 35,14: Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 32,34: But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.

2 Chronicles 29,5: And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy [place].

* those who practice homosexuality and prostitution during idolatry

** Manasseh

Israel and Judah’s infidelity to God began to a greater or lesser extent early in the time of the judges, and this continued after Israel got its own king. Although there were periods of reformation and renewal, God’s people fell farther and farther away from their God as time went on. Even the wisest king of them all, Solomon, eventually began to build sacrificial altars and high places (for offerings) to the pagan gods his many wives brought with them.

Mankind’s problem today is that the church in general does the same. The largest church in our day is doing exactly what the people of Judah did in Ezekiel’s day. They constantly mix new pagan customs and human traditions into Christianity so that it is almost unrecognizable. Here we who claim not to practice syncretism must be very careful. There are two ditches to fall into. The Bible is given to us as a guide, as a road map, to help us find our way home to God. It is therefore extremely important that we learn from history and not defile the pure doctrine with human traditions or pagan customs.

Disappointingly can we also see in our church that paganism is gaining ground. Jeremiah 10,1-15 tells us that we should only worship the Lord – the true God, who created the heavens and the earth, and gives us an example of what we should not worship. We have a Christmas song in Norway that begins with these words: You green sparkling tree, good day! Welcome, you who we like to see, with Christmas lights and with Norwegian Flags and high on the top the shining star! This Christmas song is sung in many of our churches and by many families in their homes around Christmas time. What is welcomed, and which people are so happy to see, is the Christmas tree. This is what Jeremiah says about this:

For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good …//… But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock [is] a doctrine of vanities. Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple [is] their clothing: they [are] all the work of cunning [men]. By the way, Jeremiah 10,1-16 is entitled Idols and the true God!

A few years ago I mentioned this to a pastor in our church, but he dismissed this by saying that I read it out of context. That Christmas there was a little tiny Christmas tree inside in the church hall. It does not help to say that it is not worshiped, because this is to draw a pagan custom into the church. Human and pagan customs and traditions are and will be human and pagan regardless of whether the intentions are never so good. You could say that the children are bullied if we do not have a Christmas tree, but that is not good enough. We are called to separate ourselves from the world. Yes, we live in the world but will not do as the world. When we drag a tree into the house or into the church and say that it is to honour or remember the birth of Jesus, this is no better than all the pagan traditions and human customs the Roman Church has absorbed. When it comes to these traditions and the human customs that the Roman Church is full of, we are quite clear that pagan traditions and human customs do not become Christian as long as they are wrapped in a new wrapper. As you know, you do not become a horse if you enter a stable.

Speaking of a new wrap. Some years ago I published a post I called The Nicely Wrapped Package. This is about what you think you do and what you actually do and can easily be transferred to this problem: If you take a kilo of horse manure and wrap it in the most colourful and beautiful tissue paper with bows and all kinds of stasis so it becomes the world best package to look at, there is still only horse manure inside the package. The packaging does not change the content of the package which is and will be horse manure and nothing else. This is also the case with traditions we bring with us into the church. Such as setting up an innocent (?) Christmas tree. When we do this, the Bible says that this is a refined form of idolatry, no matter what we think about it. The Christmas tree is and will be a Christmas tree, and although it is believed to be acceptable, it is still a human tradition that reflects idolatry. If we unpack the nicely wrapped package, it contains nothing but horse manure, it has not changed at all even if we give it a Christian wrapping.

Promises for the future:

Fortunately, we have a God who is gracious and who forgives our sins. He is the God of love, and He loves all people. Time and time again, He has called out to people who have gone astray, ever since the fateful day in the Garden of Eden when man broke God’s command and ate of the fruit on the forbidden tree. At that time He called: Adam! … … Where art thou? (Genesis 3,9) And this is what He has called every day since, even in our day God calls on us, and He calls: Adam! … … Where art thou? Come out of her, my people, (Revelation 18,4).

Jeremiah chapter 29:

Verses 10-14; God promises to bring His people home.

For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.              

God has promised to bring His people home. This was first fulfilled for the children of Israel who were in captivity in Egypt, Genesis 48,21: … … Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Then for the Jews who were in captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah 29,10: … … I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. Finally, it will be fulfilled in God’s people in the end times, Zephaniah 3,20: At that time will I bring you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

But as usual, there are certain conditions with the promises. Do not misunderstand me and believe I believe there are certain conditions that must be met to be saved. All who sincerely turn to the Lord will be saved, but there are certain conditions. There are many who say of themselves that they are God’s people, but God answers them as in Matthew 7,21: Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. So God will say to a large part of those who call themselves Christians I never knew you (Matthew 7,23). This is exactly the point here. God says He knows what thoughts He has about us humans, and those are good thoughts, but will we do as He says? Do we allow Jesus to enter our hearts and change our lives unconditionally? If we do, God’s rich promises will be fulfilled upon us. God does not sit on a distant cloud somewhere remote in the universe. He is present in our lives and writes a book of remembrance on our behalf. Just look at what Malachi says: Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. Malachi 3,16-18

Jeremiah chapter 50:

Verses 19-20; Recovery.

And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and [there shall be] none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found for I will pardon them whom I reserve.

The use of images here must be understood in connection with God leading His people back to their own pastures. The Hebrew words Carmel and Bashan have the same meaning. Carmel means fertile land and orchard, and was the place where Elijah settled with the prophets of Baal. Bashan was a very fertile pasture located east of the Jordan with the Hermon Mountains in the north and the Yarmuth in the south, (Yarmouth was about 25 kilometres south-west of Jerusalem). Bashan means broad, open land and fertile land. The contemporary context refers to the return of the Jews after the captivity in Babylon. The end-time context is that Christ will bring his people to heaven.

Explicit to the Jews: For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place, Jeremiah 29,10. That it applies explicitly to the Jews is clear from the word choice of the prophet. When Jeremiah uttered this prophecy, he was in Jerusalem, and among the Jews still in Judea and Jerusalem. You are therefore Jews, and this place is Jerusalem.

Double fulfilment, for both the Jews and the end-time church: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away, Isaiah 35,10. The context in Chapter 35 tells us that this has a double fulfilment. Verse 9 tells us that no lion or ravenous beast shall go where God’s redeemed are. Lions and predators can be interpreted literally and figuratively. If the Jews had been faithful to God after returning from Babylon, God would have kept the spiritual lions and ravenous beast away from His people, but they went astray. For the end-time church, this means that one day they will be out of reach of Satan’s attack because God will seal his people in the end-time with his seal on their foreheads. Then they will come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.

Explicit for God’s people in the end times: He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new! Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true, Revelation 21,4-5. He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken, Isaiah 25,8. Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy, Isaiah 65,17-18. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, Revelation 7,17.

These are some of the promises God has given to men, but in order for them to apply to us, we must accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour in this life and live our lives to the good pleasure of God. Although we can go through tough times, and face problems every single day, God is by our side and cries with us when we cry and suffers with us when we suffer, and He carries us when we are tired … … but he is also there when we rejoice, and then he rejoices with us. He longs to say to us: … … Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Matthew 25,34

Ever since the Fall, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have worked for our salvation, and every human being on earth has the same opportunity to hear about salvation. We who call ourselves Christians have a central place in God’s plan of salvation. It is our job to bring the good news to the whole world. It is our duty to tell that Jesus will soon return to judge the living and the dead. If we take this task seriously, the job will end quickly, but we must dare to get out of our comfort zone and share the good news with our neighbour.

Paul writes to Timothy the following: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry, 2 Timothy 4,1-5.

Are we ready for the day Jesus returns? Will we join the choir that will sing? … … Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation, Isaiah 25,9. For when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again, it is to redeem His faithful remnant, and to fulfil the promise to take them to the place he has finished for them, in heaven which John describes like this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new! Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true, Revelation 21,1-5.

He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, Revelation 22,20.

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