Jeremiah 37 -- 40
During the 10th or 11th year of Zedekiah's reign, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem. When the King of Babylon's army had first approached Jerusalem, 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 did not repent of his sins, neither he . . . nor the people of the land, did hearken (with a willingness to obey) to the words of the Lord (37:2).
During this crisis, Pharaoh's army came "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 from Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah sent his administrative officials to Egypt to make a military alliance. But he also sent messengers to Jeremiah. Under the pressure of approaching destruction, it seemed wise to show "goodwill" to the prophet; so Zedekiah said: Pray now unto 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 Judah expected to regain its independence once the conflict was shifted to these two great powers. When the Chaldean army retreated from Jerusalem at the advance of Pharaoh-Hophra, the princes believed that their revolt against Nebuchadnezzar and 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).
Since Zedekiah and his officials would not repent and turn to the Lord, their downfall was inevitable. The strongly-fortified city of Jerusalem held out for nearly a year and a half, during which time the people suffered the horrors of famine and pestilence. When Zedekiah finally realized that Jerusalem would soon be defeated, he attempted to escape the city at night. Pitiful as it may seem, Israel's last king was captured near Jericho where Joshua had begun the conquest of the Promised Land (39:5).
Like Zedekiah, many allow friends and self-will, rather than the Lord's will, to be the primary influence over their decisions. This king, who was blinded and imprisoned (39:7), is an example of the eventual spiritual consequences for all who stubbornly refuse to repent and seek forgiveness for their sins. For the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers (II Corinthians 4:4).
Zedekiah illustrates the accuracy of the prophet Jeremiah's testimony which 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 (Jeremiah 10:23). How easy it is to be deceived by reading only select sections of Scripture, as if God would include something in His Guidebook for life that was unimportant. We can't live something we do not know. So we must acknowledge to God: Your Word is true from the beginning: and every one of Your righteous judgments endures for ever (Psalms 119:160).
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).
37:12 separate himself thence means receive his portion there; 37:13 fallest away means are defected, deserted; 37:16 cabins means cells; 38:4 weakeneth the hands of means discourages; 38:12 cast clouts means worn-out clothes; 38:17 go forth means surrender; 38:19 mock me means abuse me; 38:27 perceived means overheard; 39:3 Rabsaris means the chief financial official; 39:5 Chaldean means Babylonian; 39:18 for a prey means as a prize; 40:4 forebear means do what you prefer.
Government Official: Rep. Nathan Deal (GA) · Pray for Evangelist Mary Hobbs · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in memory of Al Weirich · Country: Belgium (10 million) in northwestern Europe · Major languages: Flemish and French · Religious freedom · 87% Roman Catholic; 3% Muslim; .8% Protestant; .5% Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Wives, ask the Lord to give you a submissive spirit to your husbands as if it were to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).
III John 1
Memory Verse for the Week:
II Thessalonians 2:11