Lamentations 5:1-22; Obadiah 1:1-21; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40:7-41:18
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Old Testament - Lamentations Chapters 4 in yesterday's readings and chapter 5 in today's are tough chapters to read. We know why everything that we read in these chapters has come to pass from our readings in the book of Jeremiah. I guess the thing personally that jumped out at me today when reading this chapter were these thoughts: Have I personally ever experienced anything like what we read about in this chapter? The answer is no. The second thought or question that came to me, however, was this: Are there people in our world today that are experiencing similar things that we read about in this chapter? And I believe the answer is obviously yes. Not for the same "reasons" that Jerusalem was experiencing all of this of course - but the same experiences of starvation and lack of hope are indeed happening in our world today.
Then.... the question becomes - is this fair? Is this right? Should we try to do something for people in our world that are experiencing starvation, lack of hope, and worse? What will we do? I know there are thousands of organizations that we could support to help those in need in our world. One that I have personal experience with is World Vision. If you have an extra dollar a day, you can sponsor a child and radically change that child's life - forever. Or, even if you have an extra dollar a month, World Vision can do incredible things with that dollar. If anyone wants to post up other good relief orgs in the Comments sections, please do? I'd love to hear about which international relief organization you invest in. Thanks.
Actually, since I started down the path of mentioning World Vision, let me go off a bit more on my tangent here if you don't mind... :) I don't know about you, but I have had a hard time buying gifts that are simply "more stuff" for my friends and family in recent years. Don't get me wrong. I think there are wonderful hand-made gifts or books or music or even some stuff that is just the perfect gift for someone in our life. But, more often than not - if I'm going to a wedding, holiday party, birthday for kids, housewarming party - I feel like I'm just buying more "stuff" for my friends and family who have plenty of "stuff"! And so, I just want to share with you what I do now for weddings and birthdays and holidays: I may get a small personal gift for folks, but more likely I'll get them a goat! Yep, you read that right. A goat. The thing about this goat is that my friends and family won't actually have this goat walking around their house - and I'm sure they appreciate that. This goat actually goes to a family in our world that is living on less than $1 a day. This goat will provide milk and cheese for this family's personal use and for sale in the market. This goat might even allow the family to breed more goats and start up an entrepreneurial business so that this family can get self-sufficient. So... I'll be 100% honest with you here - my friends love receiving this type of goat!! They really do. With the holiday season coming up - and with weddings and birthdays and the list can go on - will you consider buying a goat for your family & friends instead of buying them more "stuff"? World Vision is one organization where you can buy these types of goats as gifts - but I'm sure there are more. World Vision actually recently unveiled their holiday gift catalog online at this link! At this link you can peruse their catalog of more than 100 gift items for families world-wide living on less than $1 a day. You can buy goats, fruit trees, wells for clean water, clothing, sheep, chickens, and the list goes on. During this holiday season, will you consider buying life-changing and life-saving gifts for others in our world this holiday season rather than just buying more "stuff"? (Thanks for reading all this... I know I've gone way off from the Bible readings today... or have I?)
Today we start and finish the book of Obadiah - the shortest book in the Old Testament! Obadiah was a prophet from Judah, who prophesied against Edom, Israel's neighbor to the southeast of Jerusalem & the Salt Sea. Edom was a descendent of Esau - and Israel a descendent of Jacob. Esau & Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and fought during their lifetimes, and the fighting of the nations of Israel & Edom continued throughout the Old Testament. A quick flashback of Jacob & Esau is here from Genesis 25:23 - "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." Below is clear map of where Edom was located - in modern day Jordan - in relationship to Israel:
Quick tangent - This map above, which shows the ancient city of Petra reminds me of an amazing book I read last year. It's called "Walking the Bible: A journey by land through the Five Books of Moses" by Bruce Feiler. Has anyone read this book by chance? I had a good friend give it to me several years ago, and I avoided reading it because it looked kind of long and boring... :) But it's not! It's fantastic. I cannot believe I waited years to read it. In the book Bruce writes about his journey across the land that he takes from Mt. Ararat in Turkey, where Noah's Ark was thought to have landed, through Abraham's journey in the fertile crescent to Canaan, to the Israelites going to Egypt, through the Exodus, the Sinai, the Negev, and the finally to Petra and Edom and to the edge of the Promised Land. It is an amazing modern day retracing the steps of the patriarchs! I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's a nonfiction book. And not really religious per se - though it's all about the Bible, so in my mind it was. This is a great read!
Back to Obadiah - There is some uncertainty over when Obadiah prophesied. It was either approximately 853-841 B.C. when Edom rebelled against Judah during the reign of Jehoram - in which case Obadiah would be a contemporary of Elisha. Or, more likely, it was approx 605-586 B.C. when Babylon was attacking Jerusalem - in which case Obadiah would be a contemporary of Jeremiah. A good overview of the book of Obadiah is at this link. Verse 11 today tells us this about the reasons for Edom's punishment - "For you deserted your relatives in Israel during their time of greatest need. You stood aloof, refusing to lift a finger to help when foreign invaders carried off their wealth and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem. You acted as though you were one of Israel's enemies."
Verse 15 stood out to me in Obadiah today: "As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you." This is a good reminder to do unto others, as we would have done unto us... Or, what goes around, comes around? :) God was upset that Edom sat around and did nothing while their neighbor Israel was attacked. They could have done something, but did nothing. In our world today are our neighbors are being attacked - or hurt - or starving - or dying of AIDS? If so, should we be doing something about it? Should we be like the Good Samaritan, caring for our neighbor? Who is your neighbor?
Jeremiah chapter 40 continues with Gedaliah being appointed governor of Judah by Babylon. Gedaliah seems to be a good sort, as he invites the people living in the country side to: "Settle in any town you wish, and live off the land. Harvest the grapes and summer fruits and olives, and store them away." (v. 10). However, things don't go well too long for Gedaliah, which is sad... Ishmael enters the scene in chapter 40 and into chapter 41, and ultimately murders Gedaliah. This definitely made me sad! Things seemed to be getting a bit peaceful in Judah, and prosperous to a degree. And then evil enters the scene once again... How many times have we seen this scenario play out over history? Below is an image of Ishmael's treachery to the remnant of Judah in 41:6 -
Worship God: Our Obadiah readings today reminded me of the Delirious song "Majesty." I had the good fortune to worship to this song with Delirious a few years back just before it was released. They were playing some of their "new stuff" and this was a great song to worship to live! You'll notice the crowd in this video is definitely worshiping.
Do you know our Majestic Lord? Click here for your Majesty!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!