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This is what the LORD says, He who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it — the LORD is His name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: ‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of the men I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honour before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’

“This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying,

“Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; His love endures forever.”

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD. “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without men or animals-in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the LORD.” ‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD , ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

” ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; He will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

~ Jeremiah 33:2-16

When reading the Bible, remember….. two sides to wisdom. Forget about the literal for a moment, and read it from the spiritual side. You just might learn something. It’s not supposed to be easy, but you are supposed to be able to figure it out.

Babylonians: People from Babylon
Babylon: Organized religion
Judah and Israel: The people who acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and show love
Dead bodies of men: Dead in spirit — without understanding; those who neither know God, nor fear Him
The Righteous Branch: The LORD Our Righteousness
The LORD Our Righteousness: Jesus (Truth and Love in flesh, the Christ, and He in us)
Shepherds: Men of God who have understanding
Flocks: God’s people
Rest: Remember Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

Now… go back and read it again. And listen. It’s not talking about what you think it’s talking about. We don’t wage war in the flesh against men. We make war in spirit against false ideologies and hatred. And yes, we are here in the middle of a desolate wasteland, where people have forgotten God — Truth and Love, Jesus is His name — and instead seek to play god themselves over others. It’s hard to put up with the things people say about us and our God. But the Lord is faithful. And He will not be mocked forever. Of that you can be sure.

It’s a new year and a new decade. Happy New Year and God bless, my friends!

Today’s paintings are: John Martin’s “The Great Day of His Wrath”, 1853; and Del Parson’s “Eternal Love”. Header image is a detail from Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg’s “The Destruction of Pharaoh’s Army”, 1792.

Another note: The paintings today are magnificent, BUT… did the artists always understand the text…?

Consider 1 Kings 19:11. It says that a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. But then after the fire came a gentle whisper. And there He was.

So many people are waiting for some huge cataclysmic, supernatural event, complete with fire and explosions and chaos. But is that really what the Bible says…?

Maybe later in 2020 we’ll also talk about what the Lake of Fire really is.