See four kinds of people: The wicked who hate and hurt those who stand for God and His Word (Jer. 37:11-16; 38:1-6); the disobedient who want God to bless them but will not repent of their sins (37:1-3,17; 38:14,20); Jeremiah, the faithful one who willingly suffers for God (40:1-6); and the compromiser, the "puppet" governor (40:5-16).
During the 11th year of Zedekiah's evil reign, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem and Zedekiah frantically said to Jeremiah: Inquire . . . of the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar . . . maketh war against us (Jer. 21:2). But the answer from the Lord was firm: I have set My face against this city . . . the king of Babylon . . . shall burn it with fire (21:10). Neither Zedekiah, nor the people of the land, did hearken (listen) unto the words of the Lord, which He spake by the prophet Jeremiah (37:2).
In desperation Zedekiah sent his officials to Egypt to make an alliance, believing that Egypt could and would protect his kingdom from the Babylonians. Because it also seemed wise to show "good will" to the prophet, Zedekiah the king sent . . . (a) priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the Lord our God for us (37:3). Instead of praying, Jeremiah replied: Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves . . . The Chaldeans shall. . . . burn this city with fire (37:9-10).
When the Chaldean army drew away from Jerusalem, the Israelites believed their alliance with Egypt had been successful without the prayers of the prophet. Yet Zedekiah was uneasy. He removed Jeremiah from prison and . . . asked him secretly in his house . . . Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is . . . thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon (37:17).
The fortified city of Jerusalem held out for nearly a year and a half. During this time the people suffered the horrors of famine, pestilence, and cannibalism. When Zedekiah finally attempted to escape the city at night, he was captured near Jericho, where much earlier Joshua had victoriously begun the conquest of the promised land (39:5).
Zedekiah was blinded, taken to Babylon, and then imprisoned (39:7). He is an example of the consequences of those who harden their hearts and refuse to seek the Lord's forgiveness for their sins. Regarding those, the Apostle Paul wrote: The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not (II Cor. 4:4).
Thought for Today:
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentence (Matt. 9:13).
By Jeremiah, who stood as a faithful witness to the revealed will of God (Jer. 38:2-9). Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness (testimony) against Jesus, to put Him to death (Matt. 26:59).
37:16 cabins =cells; 38:4 weakeneth the hands of =discourages; 38:12 cast clouts =worn-out clothes; 38:19 mock =abuse; 39:18 for a prey =as a prize; 40:4 forbear =do what you prefer.
Pray for Government Official: Rep. Nathan Deal (GA) • Country: Venezuela (23 million) on the northern coast of South America • Major languages: Spanish and Indian dialects • Religious freedom • 94% Roman Catholic; 1% Protestant; 1% Indian pagan religions • Prayer Suggestion: Declare the wondrous works of God with thanksgiving (Ps. 26:6-7).
Optional Reading: 3 John 1
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 4:18