Wednesday, May 9, 2018

harps in the midst -- part 1

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 28:15-68
By the rivers dark,
In a wounded dawn,
I live my life
In Babylon.
Though I take my song
From a withered limb,
Both song and tree,
They sing for him.
Be the truth unsaid
And the blessing gone,
If I forget
My Babylon.
I did not know
And I could not see
Who was waiting there,
Who was hunting me.
By the rivers dark,
Where it all goes on;
By the rivers dark
In Babylon.
                       --Leonard Cohen, 2001
In his attempts to get through to us, God will stop at nothing.
First, he uses words. What we call the Ten Commandments, Israel knew as the Ten Words.
When they broke his Words, God resorted to pictures, called prophecies. They could view these prophecies as a painting is viewed, from a distance. From a detached perspective they were shown what their continued disregard for his Ten Words would bring them:
From Deuteronomy 28:15-68:
(15) But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.
(16) Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.
(20) The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
(21) The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
(28) The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind,
(30) You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.
(32) Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless.
(36) The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone.
(37) And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away.
(41) You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity.
(49) The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand,
(50) a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young.
(52) They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you.
(53) And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.
(64) And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
(65) And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul.
Despite these pictures, they continued to break his laws. So God placed them inside the pictures; they themselves became the fulfillment of his prophecies. Suddenly they found themselves transported into the very midst of the scene. There, from Babylon, they looked back upon the land they had lost:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,
yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; 

and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, 
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?  (Psalms 137:1-4)
Tomorrow, you and I will enter the picture.

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