Lord, in the midst of the temporal events of today, open new eternal truths for me from Your Word.
Read Jeremiah 39:1-18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive what is due to them for the things done … whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10, TNIV).
The initial focus (1-7) is on Zedekiah, who was installed as king by the Babylonians when they first captured Jerusalem, but who was willing to lead a rebellion against them, despite Jeremiah’s warnings. The siege was a matter of both sides sitting it out and seeing who gave up first. It lasted a year and a half before the Babylonians were victorious. Zedekiah’s dash for freedom proves futile. The Babylonians decide on a terrible punishment for their disloyal puppet king, a slow death. Let him be blinded, and let his last memory of sight be that of seeing those dearest to him executed before him; then let him die in prison.
Rebellious Jerusalem is comprehensively destroyed, and its territory redistributed to the poor, presumably so that they would feel grateful and loyal to Babylon (8-10). Yet, within this general desolation, two people, Jeremiah (11-14) and Ebed-Melek, the faithful foreigner (vs. 15-18), are singled out because of God’s providentially providing for those loyal to him (c.f. Jer. 38:1-13). Nebuchadnezzar’s favorable orders concerning Jeremiah would not have been a conscious attempt to realize the Lord’s promise to protect Jeremiah (Jer. 1:8,19). Rather, he had presumably heard that Jeremiah repeatedly told the people of Jerusalem to submit to Babylon, and may have simply considered Jeremiah to be on his side. Ebed-Melek was given a promise of survival prior to the time of our narrative so that when the disaster came, he would know how to face it with hope; his trust brings life.
The whole narrative is told in a strikingly matter-of-fact way. Those who have read Jeremiah thus far know that it was faithlessness that led to the disaster, but at times it can be potent to refrain from moralizing, and let events speak for themselves.
“God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow” (Gal. 6:7). How do you see or have you seen that happen?
Lord, these are stern words. I am grateful for the many wonderful things You give me. Never let me forget that I am also accountable to You.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.