If you have been reading with me, you will realize that we are at the end of the writings of Jeremiah. He may have been nicknamed the “weeping prophet,” but by reading we commiserate with Him because of all that God’s rebellious people experienced. We understand Jeremiah’s lament and weeping. When loved ones are lost from God and end up with great suffering because of their rebellion, we who believe weep with them! Right? (By the way, I pray for all who read Daily Manna.)
God’s anger is justified and comes from a place of compassion for His people. He disciplines to pull them out of harm and back to Him. His people conformed completely to the world around them behaving aggressively in all kinds of evil ways, leaving all that is good that God wanted to give them. As we have read, we look over the situation and judge them with our thoughts; “Why would you leave your God who loves you so much?” “Why disobey God’s ways and follow all that is evil when evil leads to death and destruction?” “Why the rebellion against a God who gives?”
Ah, then we realize we cannot be so critical or be judges of what they fell for when we fall for evil ourselves. Yes, judge not, for the world today is offering the same temptations on a beautiful platter of pride and arrogance. We are told we are not enough, hammered down, harassed, and coerced until we comply with worldview thinking and behaving because we think that is easier. But where does that lead us?
We learn from God through Jeremiah what happens when we are out of step with Him, turning our backs on all that is good from God, while in complete rebellion against all that is God. And that is a terrible place to reside as opposed to abiding with the God who knows our name and simply wants us to love Him back. God is the Giver of Life eternal. God is our Healer, Provider and Protector who sent His Son to save us. Why?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
So, conforming to this world leads us down a road that is traveled by many who arrogantly think they don’t need God. Are you one of them?
Jeremiah 52, The Message
The Destruction of Jerusalem and Exile of Judah
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah. Her hometown was Libnah.
2 As far as God was concerned, Zedekiah was just one more evil king, a carbon copy of Jehoiakim.
3-5 The source of all this doom to Jerusalem and Judah was God’s anger. God turned his back on them as an act of judgment.
Zedekiah revolted against the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar set out for Jerusalem with a full army. He set up camp and sealed off the city by building siege mounds around it. He arrived on the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah’s reign. The city was under siege for nineteen months (until the eleventh year of Zedekiah).
6-8 By the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month, the famine was so bad that there wasn’t so much as a crumb of bread for anyone. Then the Babylonians broke through the city walls. Under cover of the night darkness, the entire Judean army fled through an opening in the wall (it was the gate between the two walls above the King’s Garden). They slipped through the lines of the Babylonians who surrounded the city and headed for the Jordan into the Arabah Valley, but the Babylonians were in full pursuit. They caught up with them in the Plains of Jericho. But by then Zedekiah’s army had deserted and was scattered.
9-11 The Babylonians captured Zedekiah and marched him off to the king of Babylon at Riblah in Hamath, who tried and sentenced him on the spot. The king of Babylon then killed Zedekiah’s sons right before his eyes. The summary murder of his sons was the last thing Zedekiah saw, for they then blinded him. The king of Babylon followed that up by killing all the officials of Judah. Securely handcuffed, Zedekiah was hauled off to Babylon. The king of Babylon threw him in prison, where he stayed until the day he died.
12-16 In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon on the seventh day of the fifth month, Nebuzaradan, the king of Babylon’s chief deputy, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned the Temple of God to the ground, went on to the royal palace, and then finished off the city. He burned the whole place down. He put the Babylonian troops he had with him to work knocking down the city walls. Finally, he rounded up everyone left in the city, including those who had earlier deserted to the king of Babylon, and took them off into exile. He left a few poor dirt farmers behind to tend the vineyards and what was left of the fields.
17-19 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the bronze washstands, and the huge bronze basin (the Sea) that were in the Temple of God, and hauled the bronze off to Babylon. They also took the various bronze-crafted liturgical accessories, as well as the gold and silver censers and sprinkling bowls, used in the services of Temple worship. The king’s deputy didn’t miss a thing. He took every scrap of precious metal he could find.
20-23 The amount of bronze they got from the two pillars, the Sea, the twelve bronze bulls that supported the Sea, and the ten washstands that Solomon had made for the Temple of God was enormous. They couldn’t weigh it all! Each pillar stood twenty-seven feet high with a circumference of eighteen feet. The pillars were hollow, the bronze a little less than an inch thick. Each pillar was topped with an ornate capital of bronze pomegranates and filigree, which added another seven and a half feet to its height. There were ninety-six pomegranates evenly spaced—in all, a hundred pomegranates worked into the filigree.
24-27 The king’s deputy took a number of special prisoners: Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the associate priest, three wardens, the chief remaining army officer, seven of the king’s counselors who happened to be in the city, the chief recruiting officer for the army, and sixty men of standing from among the people who were still there. Nebuzaradan the king’s deputy marched them all off to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon killed the lot of them in cold blood.
Judah went into exile, orphaned from her land.
* * *
28 3,023 men of Judah were taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in the seventh year of his reign.
29 832 from Jerusalem were taken in the eighteenth year of his reign.
30 745 men from Judah were taken off by Nebuzaradan, the king’s chief deputy, in Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year.
The total number of exiles was 4,600.
* * *
31-34 When Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. This release took place on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. The king treated him most courteously and gave him preferential treatment beyond anything experienced by the political prisoners held in Babylon. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and from then on ate his meals in company with the king. The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life.
This would not have happened if only one of the kings had listened to Jeremiah’s message. What can we learn from Jeremiah’s ministry?
- In difficult days, we need to hear and heed the Word of God. Since hindsight always has twenty-twenty vision, we can see that the leaders of Judah did a very stupid thing by resisting what Jeremiah told them to do.
- Had they confessed their sins, turned to God, and submitted to Nebuchadnezzar, they would have saved their lives, their temple, and their city.
- True prophets of God are usually (if not always) persecuted. The civil and religious leaders of Judah preferred the pleasant messages of the false prophets to the strong words of God’s true servant, because the human heart wants to rest, not repent. It wants peace but without having to deal with the basic cause of unrest—unbelief.
- God’s servantsoccasionally have their doubts and failings. Jeremiah was weak before God but bold before men. Jeremiah was a prophet of the heart. He wasn’t content to give a message that dealt with surface matters; he wanted to penetrate the inner person and see the heart changed.
- Any servant of God who tries to reach and change hearts is a candidate for sorrow and a sense of failure. But God knows our hearts and sustains us.
- God is King,and the nations of the world are under His sovereign control. Nothing catches God by surprise. The nations that defy Him and disobey His Word eventually suffer for it.
Being out of step with the God who created all, is in all and knows what we need before we need it is not the place to be. Paul explains the process of daily abiding in God;
“So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2, MSG
The same Lord who enabled Jeremiah can enable us. The same world that opposed Jeremiah will oppose us. The time has come for God’s people to be decisive. Who is on the Lord’s side?
Thank you for all the lessons of Jeremiah that we needed to read and understand for growing in your character with grateful attitudes. I repent of rebellious thoughts and ask for what you want in my life and behavior. Help me to think more like you so I will behave more like you. Most of all, help me to love others they way you love us—without conditions.
In Jesus Name, Amen