If you got hauled off into exile, you’d certainly be hoping for them to spare your life. By the time this group of 74 people consisting of dignitaries, priests, and even poor folk were collected and taken to the king, many others were already hostage in Babylon. Would these people have knowledge of where they were headed from hearing word from those exiled or was it a total unknown?
No matter what these people knew or didn’t know, they endured emotional upheaval which led to the resolution of death. These prisoners would not be captive for long. Certainly they had seen death all around them when others had been taken or attacked. Now it was their turn. This was not a pleasant time to be in Jerusalem.
God’s explanation of “why” the Babylonian empire must fall was simple. “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed.” This is one common picture of justice, known as retributive justice. “For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full.”
What surprised me was that long before Babylon’s destruction, roughly seventy-seven years, Jeremiah sent messages to Babylon about its own demise at the hands of God. What a bold move! Notice Jeremiah used someone else to deliver this message from God to Babylon. Imagine what those hearing God’s message must have thought. It would be their descendants who would witness God’s fulfillment of these words.
What was happening in Timothy’s church? Paul’s counsel about worship practices boldly addresses some specific issues. It sounds like people were not keeping their places of worship holy. In church, there is no room for anger, controversy, or flamboyancy. There are plenty of churches in existence today who need to hear Paul’s words.
Paul lays out what a place of worship should look like. He starts with the reverent attitude we need when we pray. With a pure heart, our prayers should be sincere and directed to God. Many people think that we pray our hands should be folded and heads bowed. That these hands are lifted to God means you are proclaiming before God that you have nothing to hide. Men are to be praying in church, not caught up in fighting or anger. Such behaviors distract from the goodness of God and allow Satan’s grasp within the sacred walls.