Read Jeremiah 37 -- 40
During the 10th or 11th year of Zedekiah's reign, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem and Zedekiah said to Jeremiah: Enquire, I pray you, of the Lord for us . . . If so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful works (Jeremiah 21:2). But the answer from the Lord was firm: I have set My face against this city (Jerusalem) for evil . . . It shall be given into the hand of the King of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire (21:10). Zedekiah refused to repent of his sins, neither he . . . nor the people of the land (37:2).
During this crisis, Pharaoh's army came forth to help Zedekiah (37:7) and interrupted Nebuchadnezzar's attack on Jerusalem. When the Chaldeans (Babylonians) that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem (37:5). Foolishly believing that Egypt would protect his kingdom, Zedekiah sent his officials to Egypt to make an alliance. Facing possible destruction, it also seemed wise to show "good will" to the prophet; so Zedekiah said to Jeremiah: Pray now to the Lord our God for us (37:3). Instead of praying, Jeremiah replied: Thus says the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans will surely depart from us: for they will not depart. . . . They will . . . burn this city with fire (37:9-10).
Despite the prophet's words, Zedekiah and his administrative advisors were convinced that Egypt was more powerful than Babylon, and that Judah would regain its independence. When the Chaldean army retreated from Jerusalem, the Israelites believed their alliance with Egypt was successful without the prayers of the prophet. Yet Zedekiah was uneasy. He secretly removed Jeremiah from prison and asked him . . . Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is . . . you shall be delivered into the hand of the King of Babylon (37:17).
Zedekiah and his officials still would not repent. The strongly-fortified city of Jerusalem held out for nearly a year and a half. During this time the people suffered the horrors of famine and pestilence. Zedekiah and his counselors illustrate the accuracy of the prophet Jeremiah, who said: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (10:23). When Zedekiah finally realized how deceived he had been and that Jerusalem would be defeated, he attempted to escape the city at night, but he was captured near Jericho, where Joshua had victoriously begun the conquest of the Promised Land (39:5).
Some, like Zedekiah, allow friends and self-will, rather than the Lord, to influence their decisions. They only read select sections of Scripture, as if God would include anything in His Guidebook for life that was unimportant. We can't live something we do not know. This blinded and imprisoned (39:7) king is an example of the eventual consequences of stubbornly refusing to seek His will for their sins. For the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers (II Corinthians 4:4).
Christ Portrayed: By Jeremiah, who stood as a faithful witness to the revealed will of God (Jeremiah 38:2-9), even when religious leaders hated him and tried to put him to death (compare Matt. 26:59).
Word Studies: 37:16 cabins means cells; 38:4 weakeneth the hands of means discourages; 38:12 cast clouts means worn-out clothes; 38:19 mock me means abuse me; 39:18 for a prey means as a prize; 40:4 forbear means do what you prefer.
Government Official: Rep. Nathan Deal (GA) · Pray for Direct Connection Faith Ministries and Cindy Oliver, Director · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Dr. John Hash and Family · Country: Tunisia (10 million) in North Africa · Major languages: Arabic and French · Islamic state -- no open ministry for Christ is permitted; strict surveillance of all Christian activities · 99+% Muslim; .3% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Pray fervently with others (Romans 15:30).
Optional Reading: III John 1
Memory Verse for the Week: John 5:24