Tag Archives: Zedekiah

God’s People, part 89: Jeremiah

Read Jeremiah 1

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’ For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.'” (Jeremiah 32:14-15 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

JeremiahPart 89: Jeremiah. Jeremiah is one of my favorite prophets. In our last devotion we talked about how he was prophet during the time of King Zedekiah, who refused to listen to Jeremiah’s counsel on how to deal with King Nebuchadnezzar II. Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of God, told the king that he ought to submit himself, and all of Jerusalem with him, to the will of Babylonian King. This would have meant that Zedekiah would merely have been a vassal, or puppet king, of Nebuchadnezzar.

Zedekiah had other ideas and, not only did he not listen to Jeremiah, he detested his advice. How dare this prophet tell him how to handle the Babylonian King! How dare this loud-mouthed, whiny prophet tell him to submit to the will of a foreign empire. Zedekiah was not going to let that happen if he could hep it.

Well, we all know now that Zedekiah really couldn’t help it. Jerusalem didn’t have the forces to stand up to the great Babylonian army; therefore, they had to rely on the enemy of their enemy for military support. We all know how such alliances end up, or at least many of them. They ended up allying themselves with Egypt (a former enemy themselves) who never, in the end, came through for them because it really wasn’t in their interest to. In the end, all that alliance did was anger the Babylonian King and cause him to set off for Jerusalem to beseige, conquer and exile them. We all know how that ended: it was utterly catastrophic for Jerusalem, its king, his family and the people of Jerusalem as a whole.

In the process of standing up to the king and warning him of the destruction that laid ahead, Jeremiah endured all sorts of abuse. He was mocked, beaten up, thrown into cistern where he sat for days, and imprisoned. The king and many of his other advisers did not take him seriously; however, Jeremiah’s prophecy did end up getting fulfilled in the end. Sadly, that meant the destruction of everything that was dear to the Jews, as well as the exile of countless people to Babylon. Jerusalem and Judah would never, ever be the same again.

But Jeremiah was not always so bold. When God first called him into the role of prophet, he could not believe that God would actually choose him. “But Lord,” Jeremiah protested, “I cannot speak for you, for I am too young” God would not have any of those excuses.

“The LORD replied, ‘Don’t say, “I’m too young,” for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!’ Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, ‘Look, I have put My words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.’” (Jeremiah 1:7-10 NLT)

God’s appointment of him as a prophet, I am sure, was not comforting to him; however, he did, inevitably, say yes to God. The rest is history, as the phrase goes, and the prophet does end up witnessing the end of one kingdom all the while ensuring the future of another kingdom, yet to come. The question for us is this, do we automatically reject God’s call on our lives? Do we fail to see the potential God sees in us? Perhaps, like Jeremiah, it is time to trust that God knows what God is doing and say “yes” to God’s call.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
God knows us better than we even know ourselves. Trust in God’s call.

PRAYER
Lord, while I do not see in me what you see in me, I put my trust in you. Amen.

God’s People, part 88: Zedekiah

Read 2 Kings 25:1-26

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But Zedekiah did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done.” (Jeremiah 52:2 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

ZedekiahPart 88: Zedekiah. Zedekiah was the great-grandson of Josiah; however, he wasn’t even half of the king that his great-grandfather was. Following the death of Josiah, the third eldest son of the great king succeeded him. This certainly attests to the fact that Josiah must have seen him as being in line with his agenda and policies; however, Johoahaz reigned for only three short months before being deposed by the Eyptian Pharaoh Necho II, and was exiled to Egypt.

The Kingdom of Judah was given over to Jehoiakim, Josiah’s second eldest son. At first, he was a vassal of the Egyptian Pharaoh until Egypt was beseiged and conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. At that point Jehoiakim switched allegiance to avert the destruction of Jerusalem. As a part of the agreement, Jehoiakim paid a tribute from the national treasury, handed over Temple artifacts, and handed over some of the royal family and nobility as hostages to the ruthless Babylonian king.

Eventually, however, Jehoiakim switched his allegiance back to Egypt and sealed his own fate and the fate of Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died during the first Babylonian seige of Jerusalem and was succeeded by Jechoniah (aka Jehoiachin), Josiah’s grandson and Jehoiakim’s son. Three months later, fearing retribution from a possibly vengeful king, Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jechoniah and replaced him with his son, Josiah’s great-grandson, Zedekiah. It wasinto this treacherous and precarious situation that his reign began.

Zedekiah proved to be a head-strong young king who was determined on revolting against the great Babylonian king, which sealed his fate. It was during his rule that Jeremiah was prophesying. The great prophet’s counsel, and the counsel of the Zedekiah’s other advisers and family member, was to acquiesce to Babylon’s rule and spare Jerusalem and it’s people from certain disaster. Jeremiah’s message was that it was because of Judah’s sin and pride that they were in this predicament to begin with. The prophet counseled Zedekiah to humble himself and remain a vassal king of Nebuchadnezzar.

Zedekiah, on the other hand, had other ideas and he, following the example of his grandfather, allied himself with Egypt and revolted against the Babylonians. This, sadly, ended in Jerusalem being beseiged for two long years. The author of 2 Kings wrote: “By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. Then a section of the city wall was broken down. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians, the soldiers waited for nightfall and escaped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden. Then they headed toward the Jordan Valley” (2 Kings 25:3-4 NLT).

The results were catastrophic. Babylon beseiged the city, meaning that they blocked anything and/or anyone from getting into the city, and they blocked anything and/or anyone from getting out of the city. That resulted in famine within the walls of Jerusalem, and people starving to death. Some resorted to cannibalism and, eventually, Jerusalem was so weak that Nebuchadnezzar could just waltz into the city and take it with very little resistance. Once he did, he slaughtered tons of people, took treasures out of the Temple, and leveled the Temple to the ground.

The priests, scribes, nobles and other prominent people were taken alive from Jerusalem and exiled to Babylon. Zedekiah took a secret escape route out of the city, but was caught by Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers. They slaughtered his sons as he watched and then gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes. The deaths of his sons was the last thing, literally, that Zedekiah would see.

The challenge for us here is humility? Are we like Zedekiah, too proud to listen to painfully true advice, or are we the type of people who swallow our pride, listen to good advice, and make the necessary changes in order to avoid catastrophe? If we are the former, we can expect that we will, at some point, find ourselves humbled by the catastrophic unintended consequences of our pride; however, if we are the latter, then will be honoring God and following in the footsteps of Christ, who embodied humility. Let us all, by the power of the Holy Spirit, find ourselves walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Jesus of Nazareth in the New Living Translation of Matthew 23:12

PRAYER
Lord, keep us humble so that we may not stumble on our pride. Amen.