1. The parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35) is the story of someone who received unlimited mercy but could only give justice. He could not give what he had been given. It could be outlined this way: mercy in, ultimate mercy, justice out, ultimate justice.
2. “They felt no shame about breaking the moral laws of God and then coming to stand in the temple that bore God’s name (i.e., belonged to him; Num 6:27; 1 Kgs 9:3). There they would say, ‘We are safe.’ They believed that observing the temple rituals freed them to return to their ‘detestable things’ (a word that often bears sexual overtones) without fear of punishment” (Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations, 106).
3. “Hallelujah” from Revisionist History Podcast. Malcolm Gladwell. Released Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
4. “Gilead and Lebanon were noted for their forests, Lebanon especially for its cedar that was widely valued for construction. David described his palace as a house of cedar (2 Sam 7:2,7). One part of Solomon’s palace complex was called the House of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kgs 7:2-5; 10:17, 21), so named for its rows of cedar pillars and beams. The Lord warned that invaders would come and cut down and burn the buildings, as a woodsman would cut down trees. Their beauty would not save them from destruction. So thorough would be the destruction that Jerusalem would be like a desert or an uninhabited town.” Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations, 204.
5. I’m now thinking of these rats trying to put their lives back together; perhaps in a therapy session of tested rats, all with burned little feet, drinking coffee, huddled in the conference room of a community center and talking about how empty a life of chasing pleasure is: “Hi my name is Steven, I’ve been off electric shock for three days now . . .”
6. For helpful discussion of the seventy years, see J. Daniel Hays, Jeremiah and Lamentations, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016), 184.
7. This story within the story could stand alone but seems tied thematically with the fall of Jerusalem.
8. The outline for this chapter is taken from Wright, Message of Jeremiah, 395–407.