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Jeremiah

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Prophet: Jeremiah
Jeremiah is one of the four major prophets according to the Catholic church. The book of Jeremiah covers the period between 626 BC to 583 BC. It is written by Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. Jeremiah dictated and Baruch recorded his message. Jeremiah may have been related to the deuteronomic authors or some may say he may been one of the deuteronomic authors. Certainly his message was close to the deuteronomic writing. Jeremiah was born in a priestly family from a town near Jerusalem, around year 650BC, about 100 years after the prophet Isaiah. God had blessed him and God called him when he was very little. Jeremiah followed God’s way and was faithful to God. He lived his life in turmoil because he was witnessing the Israelites acting out their unfaithfulness to God. Jeremiah was called by God to be his prophet to Judah and to the nations in the mist of Judah’s political convulsions :
- (687-642), the political dependence of the Assyria brought on an resurgence of idolatry in the form of a syncretist fusion of the Mesopotamian astral gods and the Canaamite fertility deities.
- The religious and political situation persisted until 622-621 when the Book of the Law was discovered in the Temple, Josiah led a thorough reform in Judah, which he extended to northern Israel. The people of who had been faithful the Yahwistic covenant did really supported the King. This glorious reign came to end in 609BC after the king’s death.
- (609-598) Under Jehoiakim the religious syncretism revived in Judah. Jerusalem first down fall occurred in 597 with Judah’s first deportation.
- The new king, Zedekiah, after the exile of prior king, Jehoiachin, was caught between two parties and policies. In 587, Jerusalem was sacked and Judah experienced a second deportation to Babylon and Judah was reduced to a Babylonian province.
- Gedaliah, a Judean was appointed as Judah’s governor of the new province. He was assassinated two months later.
Jeremiah ministry lasted for 40 years. The prophet’s book was determined by S. Mowinckel to have four literary sources: the poetic oracles, the biographical narratives, the oracle of salvation and the oracles against the nations. His message to the Israelites was full of condemnations and anger (the book of Jeremiah 2:5-6, 2:11-17, 3:11-13, ). He was torn between his gentle, God’s loving heart nature and his anger on behalf of the Lord for the people of Israel was living in sins against the God of Israel. Even the leaders were ignoring his warning (the book of Jeremiah 5 4-5). Jeremiah was upset with the people, almost like he was jealous in place of God “For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God” Deuteronomy 5:9. He warned the people of Israel of God’s punishments (Jeremiah 1:25, 13). He assured the people of God’s mercy (Jeremiah 26-35). He consoled the people of Israel, gave them encouragement and hope (Jeremiah 30-31). He expressed his sorrow over the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 45:1-5).
Overall, Jeremiah’s life was one that is closest and similar to that of Jesus. He was born in grace, faithful to God, ignored by his own people and suffered with the people’s sins against God.
Prophet: Zephaniah
Zephaniah was one of the 12 minor prophets. There are only three chapters in Zephaniah’s book. There was a period of prophetic silence since Isaiah and Micah disappeared toward the end of Hezekiah’s reign (715-686 BC) . King Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, reversed the anti-Assyrian policy of his father. Hezekiah and Jerusalem may have survived but the countryside was devastated. Zephaniah was one the first to speak out against Manasseh’s many abominable practices such as introducing the fertility rites into the Jerusalem temple or immolated his son by fire.
Zephaniah prophesied in Josiah’s reign (640-609). His message was about the fate of nations in God’s hands. The dominant theme is the Day of Yahweh when Yahweh will destroy the vassal of Assyria. The oracle of Doom (Zephaniah 1:2-3); Exhortations based on threats against nation (Zephaniah 2:1-15). Salvation of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:1-20).
Prophet: Nahum
Nahum was another minor prophets. A native of Elkosh, he has been considered a cultic prophet. He message was an oracle concerning Nineveh. His prophecy comes from a poet of great skill . He warned the people of Nineveh of God’s anger “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (Nahum 1:2). The destruction of the oppressor will bring joy to God’s people and to all who have suffered Assyria’s cruelty (Nahum 2:2-14). Final destruction (Nahum 3:1-19).
Nahum’s vision was one of celebration. For over three hundred years, Assyria had controlled the Near Eastern world; the capital city had been Nineveh for over one hundred years. Assyria had ruled with calculated cruelty and terror. Nineveh was destroyed in 612BC by a coalition of Babylonians and Medes and Persians with the help of smaller tribes. Nahum message focused on the one topic that God is a God of justice, he does not tolerate injustice forever. He used the term “holy war” as it is called in Mic 3:5. His message was vivid with details for not only he writes as an eyewitness of the destruction, but he also pretends to be in the city in its last hours. “The crack of whip, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots! Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses” (Nah 3:1-3). He brilliantly painted the destruction and killing scene just like a movie that one can watch in his mind.
Prophet: Habakkuk
Habakkuk was another minor prophet. The oracle that prophet Habakkuk received was like a conversation with God. The prophecy is dated sometime after the Babylonians became an active threat against Judah but before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587BC. His complains about injustice among the people in Judah suggested sometime in the reign of Jehoiakim (609-597BC) . Habakkuk did not mention any other nation in his prophecy. His complained to God was about the people of Judah. He addressed the evils within Judah. It almost like he was preaching his sermon to the people and warning them of God’s anger from God’s answer to his complains. But his message in chapter 3 was one of a prayer to God. He gloried God “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord” (Hab 3:1), “His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden” (Hab 3:4-5).
In conclusion, the prophets are mouthpiece for God. Their messages are not for just the people of the old days but also for people of God in this time. Their messages are lessons from God to his people. The stories are different but the messages all revealed to us the one God of justice, God of mercy, God of goodness, God of love. Our holy God. While doing this assignment I struggled with the writing, the technique and some of the chapters are hard to read. But while doing it I learned that God only wants his people to be faithful to him, to follow his way, to live happily and fully as God intended for us. The people whose hearts do not know God’s way suffered and eventually came back to God. No matter how far we wandered away from God, how sinful we are, God continues to call us, to wait for us.
Dear God, I glorify you in your goodness. I glorify you in all your prophets. They are your messengers in this world to share with us the secret of your wisdom. I thank you Lord for created me. I thank you Lord for the knowledge of you. Teach me your way and keep me straight in your path. Let us always walk with your love in our heart and your teaching in our mind. Amen.…...

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