On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord , the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried all the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the basins, censers, sprinkling bowls, pots, lampstands, dishes and bowls used for drink offerings—all that were made of pure gold or silver. The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the twelve bronze bulls under it, and the movable stands, which King Solomon had made for the temple of the Lord , was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference ; each was four fingers thick, and hollow. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was five cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its pomegranates, was similar. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; the total number of pomegranates above the surrounding network was a hundred. – Jeremiah 52:12-23
I have been camped along the side of the river in my float through the bible for over a month now. It is time to burn the cabin and get back on the water! The reasons for my long hiatus are complex. A confluence of the end of the school year and preparations for leading a study abroad trip to Haiti with a group of students has resulted in my decent into the waves. I am actually writing this post from Haiti where I will be fo three more weeks. We are one week in and I feel like I have my equilibrium back now and I am excited to see where God leads me on the “river”.
This passage marks the last water-related reference in Jeremiah. Jeremiah has been a rocky stretch of water. I began this “Jeremiah journey” back in December with a “pot that was boiling” (Jeremiah 1:4-15). The journey ends here with that “pot from the north”, the Babylonians, sacking Jerusalem and the temple and taking many into exile. They dismantle the temple piece by piece and basically convert the beautiful decorations and ceremonial items and convert them to scrap metal.
On one level it seems somewhat strange that God would allow anyone to desecrate the temple in this way. As I have chewed on this a bit it seems like there may be more to it. Perhaps God is continuing to remind the people of Israel that they are in fact His temple rather than any building, or items within it. I think God feels the same way about all who choose to faithfully follow Him. All the altar decorations in the world are less important than our souls and the connection to our inner being that God desires. Maybe God sometimes allows a bit of adversity to occur in our lives and to our “temples” to achieve the same goal –to strip us down to our souls.
Prayer: God thank You for watching over us and caring enough for us to occasionally allowing our “temples” to be sacked.