Ye were sold to the nations, not for your destruction: but because ye moved God to wrath, ye were delivered unto the enemies. For ye provoked him that made you by sacrificing unto devils, and not to God.
The word for “Devils” is δαιμονίοις, or in roman letters “daimoníois”. I can’t help but think that if this book had been translated into Hebrew it would have been replaced with “’eliyl”. Why do I think that may have been the case? Because it happened in Psalm 96:5
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
The difference between the two is the difference between “idol” and “demon”. It’s noteworthy, because Hebrew has a word that could have been put in place of dæmon- you can find it as H7700 (shed) in the Strong’s Concordance. This word is used all of 2 times, once in Deuteronomy 32:17 and once in Psalm 106:37. There are other words which may be used to replace a form of “dæmon”, but in context to the sentence “’eliyl” seems the most likely. At least from a literary prospective.
That may not seem important. But I find value in the difference because the two words bear very different understandings of who the people were sacrificing too. If you sacrifice to an “’eliyl” it’s like sacrificing to a dead orange tree. That tree can’t give you anything now that it’s dead. But if you sacrifice to a “dæmon” it can give you something, even if minor, in return. To continue with the live orange tree analogy, the living tree can still act in the capacity of giving you oranges and it can clean the air. Although limited in scope, when compared to God, it’s still giving you the illusion that it has the power to do something for you. Which is why the distinction is important. Because an “’eliyl” centered system isn’t as dangerous as a “dæmon” centered system; “’eliyl” has no will of it’s own, and cannot influence the thoughts of man- “dæmon” on the other hand, can.
By cutting demonic forces out of the equation, it makes it a great deal easier for Christians to follow something not God under the guise that it is God. Knowing that influence is real, and not just imagined, brings the spiritual war we face throughout our lives into reality and out of theory.
O Jerusalem, look about thee toward the east, and behold the joy that cometh unto thee from God. Lo, thy sons come, whom thou sentest away, they come gathered together from the east to the west by the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Put off, O Jerusalem, the garment of mourning and affliction, and put on the comeliness of the glory that cometh from God for ever.
Cast about thee a double garment of the righteousness which cometh from God; and set a diadem on thine head of the glory of the Everlasting. For God will shew thy brightness unto every country under heaven. For thy name shall be called of God for ever The peace of righteousness, and The glory of God’s worship.
Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and look about toward the east, and behold thy children gathered from the west unto the east by the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the remembrance of God. For they departed from thee on foot, and were led away of their enemies: but God bringeth them unto thee exalted with glory, as children of the kingdom.
For God hath appointed that every high hill, and banks of long continuance, should be cast down, and valleys filled up, to make even the ground, that Israel may go safely in the glory of God, Moreover even the woods and every sweet smelling tree shall overshadow Israel by the commandment of God. For God shall lead Israel with joy in the light of his glory with the mercy and righteousness that cometh from him.
Remember in Chapter 3 how I brought up that God told Jeremiah not to pray for Israel?
Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh, I am suddenly having flashbacks to that same chapter. Which continues with-
Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.
Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.
If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.
Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.
Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.
Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
I think I understand why the Jewish people rejected this book. After having read the whole of it, this sounds like the very piece that God was referring to in the Jeremiah passage. Once we get into Chapter 4 and 5, we start to see how the prayer suddenly turned from one that was “Let thy will be done” centered, to a prayer that pretends to know that God will overturn His what He has willed. In the end, it’s very human centered, and not centered upon righteousness.
And looking back at prayers I’ve heard from various pastors over the years, I can’t help but see a parallel. If you do X, God will return X with Y (Y being anything other than forgiveness). It’s more prevalent amongst Word of Faith ministers, but it’s still there with so many others.
We can’t know the mind of God unless He tells us. In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that’s the whole point of the Captivity going on for so long. Even if people lived in righteousness, God didn’t start bringing the Nation of Israel back together until 1948. And even then, their country is struggling to determine who is and isn’t part of the family. There is just enough room to argue that God hasn’t completely healed them, and their efforts are their own. Which, I recognize is no small matter.
Just in case anyone has the question on their mind: God is the one in control of Israel’s future. I believe that anti-Semitism has no place in the world, and anyone (especially Christians) who support such feelings towards them does not have a relationship with God at all. If you identify as an anti-Semitic Christian, you really need to work on your relationship with God. Truly, if you identify with any form of racism, you should work on your relationship with God.