Jeremiah 51-52The Message (MSG)
51 1-5 There’s more. God says more:
6-8 “Get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
9 “We did our best, but she can’t be helped.
Your Lifeline Is Cut
10 “God has set everything right for us.
11-13 “Sharpen the arrows!
14 God-of-the-Angel-Armies has solemnly sworn:
15-19 By his power he made earth.
They’ll Sleep and Never Wake Up
20-23 God says, “You, Babylon, are my hammer,
24 “Judeans, you’ll see it with your own eyes. I’ll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion.” God’s Decree.
25-26 “I’m your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer,
27-28 “Raise the signal in the land,
29-33 “The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain,
34-37 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
38-40 “The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs,
41-48 “Babylon is finished—
Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile
49-50 “Babylon must fall—
51 How we’ve been humiliated, taunted and abused,
52-53 “I know, but trust me: The time is coming”
54-56 “But now listen! Do you hear it? A cry out of Babylon!
57 “I’ll get them drunk, the whole lot of them—
58 God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks:
“The city walls of Babylon—those massive walls!—
59 Jeremiah the prophet gave a job to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. It was in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Seraiah was in charge of travel arrangements.
60-62 Jeremiah had written down in a little booklet all the bad things that would come down on Babylon. He told Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read this out in public. Read, ‘You, O God, said that you would destroy this place so that nothing could live here, neither human nor animal—a wasteland to top all wastelands, an eternal nothing.’
63-64 “When you’ve finished reading the page, tie a stone to it, throw it into the River Euphrates, and watch it sink. Then say, ‘That’s how Babylon will sink to the bottom and stay there after the disaster I’m going to bring upon her.’”
The Destruction of Jerusalem and Exile of Judah
52 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah. Her hometown was Libnah.
2 As far as God was concerned, Zedekiah was just one more evil king, a carbon copy of Jehoiakim.
3-5 The source of all this doom to Jerusalem and Judah was God’s anger. God turned his back on them as an act of judgment.
Zedekiah revolted against the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar set out for Jerusalem with a full army. He set up camp and sealed off the city by building siege mounds around it. He arrived on the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah’s reign. The city was under siege for nineteen months (until the eleventh year of Zedekiah).
6-8 By the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month, the famine was so bad that there wasn’t so much as a crumb of bread for anyone. Then the Babylonians broke through the city walls. Under cover of the night darkness, the entire Judean army fled through an opening in the wall (it was the gate between the two walls above the King’s Garden). They slipped through the lines of the Babylonians who surrounded the city and headed for the Jordan into the Arabah Valley, but the Babylonians were in full pursuit. They caught up with them in the Plains of Jericho. But by then Zedekiah’s army had deserted and was scattered.
9-11 The Babylonians captured Zedekiah and marched him off to the king of Babylon at Riblah in Hamath, who tried and sentenced him on the spot. The king of Babylon then killed Zedekiah’s sons right before his eyes. The summary murder of his sons was the last thing Zedekiah saw, for they then blinded him. The king of Babylon followed that up by killing all the officials of Judah. Securely handcuffed, Zedekiah was hauled off to Babylon. The king of Babylon threw him in prison, where he stayed until the day he died.
12-16 In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon on the seventh day of the fifth month, Nebuzaradan, the king of Babylon’s chief deputy, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned the Temple of God to the ground, went on to the royal palace, and then finished off the city. He burned the whole place down. He put the Babylonian troops he had with him to work knocking down the city walls. Finally, he rounded up everyone left in the city, including those who had earlier deserted to the king of Babylon, and took them off into exile. He left a few poor dirt farmers behind to tend the vineyards and what was left of the fields.
17-19 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze washstands, and the huge bronze basin (the Sea) that were in the Temple of God, and hauled the bronze off to Babylon. They also took the various bronze-crafted liturgical accessories, as well as the gold and silver censers and sprinkling bowls, used in the services of Temple worship. The king’s deputy didn’t miss a thing. He took every scrap of precious metal he could find.
20-23 The amount of bronze they got from the two pillars, the Sea, the twelve bronze bulls that supported the Sea, and the ten washstands that Solomon had made for the Temple of God was enormous. They couldn’t weigh it all! Each pillar stood twenty-seven feet high with a circumference of eighteen feet. The pillars were hollow, the bronze a little less than an inch thick. Each pillar was topped with an ornate capital of bronze pomegranates and filigree, which added another seven and a half feet to its height. There were ninety-six pomegranates evenly spaced—in all, a hundred pomegranates worked into the filigree.
24-27 The king’s deputy took a number of special prisoners: Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the associate priest, three wardens, the chief remaining army officer, seven of the king’s counselors who happened to be in the city, the chief recruiting officer for the army, and sixty men of standing from among the people who were still there. Nebuzaradan the king’s deputy marched them all off to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon killed the lot of them in cold blood.
Judah went into exile, orphaned from her land.
28 3,023 men of Judah were taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in the seventh year of his reign.
29 832 from Jerusalem were taken in the eighteenth year of his reign.
30 745 men from Judah were taken off by Nebuzaradan, the king’s chief deputy, in Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year.
The total number of exiles was 4,600.
31-34 When Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. This release took place on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. The king treated him most courteously and gave him preferential treatment beyond anything experienced by the political prisoners held in Babylon. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and from then on ate his meals in company with the king. The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life.
Hebrews 9The Message (MSG)
A Visible Parable
9 1-5 That first plan contained directions for worship, and a specially designed place of worship. A large outer tent was set up. The lampstand, the table, and “the bread of presence” were placed in it. This was called “the Holy Place.” Then a curtain was stretched, and behind it a smaller, inside tent set up. This was called “the Holy of Holies.” In it were placed the gold incense altar and the gold-covered ark of the covenant containing the gold urn of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, the covenant tablets, and the angel-wing-shadowed mercy seat. But we don’t have time to comment on these now.
6-10 After this was set up, the priests went about their duties in the large tent. Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent, and then only once a year, offering a blood sacrifice for his own sins and the people’s accumulated sins. This was the Holy Spirit’s way of showing with a visible parable that as long as the large tent stands, people can’t just walk in on God. Under this system, the gifts and sacrifices can’t really get to the heart of the matter, can’t assuage the conscience of the people, but are limited to matters of ritual and behavior. It’s essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made.
Pointing to the Realities of Heaven
11-15 But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.
16-17 Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.
18-22 Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.
23-26 That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.
27-28 Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.