Jeremiah 38-40; Psalm 74 and 79
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CHAPTER 38 — Jeremiah, HOW faithful was he???? He kept right on preaching what God told him to preach, regardless of what the people did to him, regardless of how much they disliked him, regardless of what happened to him…..THAT is faithfulness, trust, and belief in a BIG GOD!!! Once again he is telling the leaders to SURRENDER (oh, how humiliating that would be to the King and all the leaders of Judah!!) to the Babylonians so they could LIVE. He added if they did not surrender they WOULD DIE!!
So what happens??? The leaders THROW the guy in a cistern (a DEEP hole with rock sides designed to hold/collect rain water.) Interestingly King Zedekiah tells the leaders who want to kill Jeremiah: “He is in your hands.” King “Z” wanted to be on Jeremiah’s side but peer pressure was too much for him!! (Maybe a man without a spine, you think???) So in the cistern Jeremiah goes. There is no water ONLY MUD where Jeremiah SANK into. ICK!!!!! The thought of someone putting me in a cistern wigs me out…..it would have been dark, damp, full of mud…..and I don’t even want to think what kind of bugs and snakes or other creatures might be living down there that would be crawling all over me!! GAG!!! Jeremiah if left in there could have drown, died of exposure to the elements, or simply starved to death. YET..the scripture says NOTHING about Jeremiah begging not to be put in there, or screaming as they were lowering him inside, or yelling out “hey….could you throw a little bread down?” I can imagine Jeremiah praying to God the entire time this was happening to him. Here is a picture of what a cistern may have looked like at that time.
And God sent Ebed-Melech (whose name means “servant of the king”), an Ethiopian eunuch who was an official in the royal palace. Ebed-Melech went against the grain. HE convinced King Zedediah to save Jeremiah so Zedediah ORDERED Ebed-Melech to lift Jeremiah out of the cistern. Ebed-Melech’s obedience to God could have resulted in the loss of his job AND the loss of his life!! However, he feared God more than he feared the risk!! Because of his obedience to God to stand against the murder plot against Jeremiah, he was spared when Jerusalem fell (39:15-18.) Now he is a man we would all do well do model, know what I mean?
NO WONDER JUDAH was in MAJOR TURMOIL!! This King is being tossed about like the waves of the sea!! 1st—THIS King actually LISTENED to Jeremiah (37:21) 2nd –OK—“He is in your hands.” In other words….go ahead and kill him (38:5)!! and 3rd — OK — Ebed-Melech, grab 30 men and lift Jeremiah out before he dies…..so the King rescued Jeremiah (38:10)!!! Reminds me of Ephesians 4:13-14: ” …until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. THEN we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Jeremiah was not popular. His words undermined the morale of the army and the people. YET he was doing EXACTLY what God called him to do. He was telling Judah the exact words God gave him to tell them. Jeremiah CHOSE to serve God and do HIS will. Compare him to King Zedekiah who couldn’t decide on ANYthing because he was more concerned with what people thought than what God wanted.
NOW… Jeremiah was out of the cistern and Zedekiah wanted to ask his opinion!!! Jeremiah asked him why because he wouldn’t listen to him and then he’d probably kill him. Interestingly Zedekiah wanted to hear what Jeremiah/God has to say and asked Jeremiah to promise him that he would tell NO ONE what they spoke of. He asked Jeremiah to tell people he was pleading with Zedekiah not to send him back to Jonathan’s house to die!!! DO…..Zedekiah hears Jeremiah tell him once again to surrender to the King of Babylon so he and his family could live. BUT…did Zedekiah listen????
CHAPTER 39 — This is a critical chapter. It is HISTORY. We are reading about the fall of Jerusalem in this chapter. And, we will read this account from 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles tomorrow. Again, anytime God has something repeated twice it should get out attention, three times we really need to pay attention, and more than three……STAND UP and TAKE notes….memorize it. There is a reason God repeats things.
As we read each of these chapters, KNOW that we are reading the Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon EXACTLY as it was prophesied. Try to grasp the 5 “W’s” of the captivity and ask yourself the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY of the Scripture….and don’t leave out the HOW question. We have been reading months and months of prophecy concerning the captivity and exile …. and the REMNANT!! NOW….we are reading prophecy fulfilled!! Don’t forget the REMNANT is VERY important so if you write (or color) in your Bible like I do ….. circle this word EACH time you see it mentioned.
And then came the fall of Jerusalem…..so very sad. King “Z” did NOT heed Jeremiah’s advice he ASKED for in Chapter 38!! He rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, who captured him, killed his sons in front of him, blinded him, and took him back to Babylon where he died. Ummmmmmm…….isn’t this exactly what Jeremiah said would happen???
CHAPTER 40 — Jeremiah was freed BY THE BABYLONIANS, just like the Lord said would happen in the first chapter. If you have time, take a minute to reread this part of the first chapter. The detail and the truth of just this part of the prophecy is INCREDIBLE!!
“But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will RESCUE you,” declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah was FREE to go WHEREVER he desired. The Babylonian commander did NOT KNOW God, but he acknowledged that God had given the Babylonians victory!! He recognized the existence of God and all HE could do, BUT he did not personally accept HIM. Knowing God personally is very different than simply knowing about HIM. Even the enemy KNOWS about HIM, even believes in all HE can do; but the enemy does not desire a personal relationship with HIM. The enemy desires to be god, and have the power; therefore, he desires to keep you and all people from having a deep personal relationship with our personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah could have gone to Babylon and lived in great comfort and power. He would have been favored by the Babylonians, but hated by the Judean exiles. However, in Judah he would continue to face hardship, remain poor and unwanted; BUT the Judean REMNANT would KNOW he was NOT a TRAITOR. Jeremiah returned to Judah.
PSALM 74 — This psalm was written by Asaph or one of his descendants since many believe this was written after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. It is a plea for God to help HIS people defend HIS cause and remember HIS promises. Sometimes when we are going through hard, challenging, times in our life it can seem as if God is slow to intervene on our behalf. We can become impatient waiting for HIM to act. We may become depressed, angry, or feel our trust waxing. However, in those times it is sooooooooo important that we keep our focus on HIM. KNOW that HIS timing is not our timing and HIS ways are not our ways. Look at all the things the psalmist focuses on that God did in the past which help to focus on God’s character. THIS psalm is a perfect reminder of why it is so important to KNOW Scripture …when in doubt…pull it out!!! There are nights when I go to bed repeating one verse of Scripture over and over and over again until I fall asleep. And in times when my mind seems to go completely numb and I am totally overwhelmed…..I sing: “Jesus loves me THIS I KNOW…”
PSALM 79 — This is another psalm of Asaph again written after the Babylonians had leveled Jerusalem (as was prophesied.) The theme of this psalm is when we are outraged by injustice, CRY OUT TO GOD, not against HIM. In verse 6, Asaph asked God to “pour out HIS wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge YOU.” Ironically, God was pouring out judgement on Israel (both Israel and Judah…remember they were a unified nation at one time) for this very thing. God desires our trust in HIM, our faith in HIM, our devotion to HIM….regardless of our circumstances. And, sometimes it is hard to keep our focus on HIM when our world seems to be collapsing. Yet, it seems that through hardships…when we totally surrender “it” ALL to HIM….that we become closer to HIM…we learn how to pray through things….and develop more into HIS image. Know that God never said this life would be “easy” or “fair”; however, HE did say HE would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER leave us or forsake us.
Sharing HIS love,