Zedekiah reigned as king of Jerusalem from 597-586 B.C. It was during his tenure that Jerusalem would be conquered by the Babylonians. Jeremiah did everything he could to warn the people, and bring them back to God, but no one listened.
King Zedekiah did send delegates to Jeremiah, to inquire of him, and ask for prayer. Perhaps the king was hoping that the Egyptians would defeat the Babylonians, who had lifted their siege to engage them in warfare, but it wouldn’t happen. Jeremiah gave God’s Word:
Jeremiah 37:7–8 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: ‘Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.’’”
When the Babylonians left to deal with the Egyptians, Jeremiah left Jerusalem for personal business, to take claim his property in the land of Benjamin. Irijah the son of Shelemiah spotted him; he accused him of defecting to the Chaldeans, and proceeded to seize Jeremiah, beat him and throw him into prison.
Jeremiah 37:15-16 describes the prison as being in or under the house of Jonathan the scribe, but it also uses the words “dungeons” and “cells.” Jeremiah was probably placed in underground cisterns, cold, dark, and isolated for “many days.” Keep in mind, Jeremiah is now in his sixties.
Jeremiah was a VERY unpopular prophet, so the king visited him secretly. Zedekiah inquired again, and again Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon Jerusalem. In spite of the fact that he was imprisoned, his message did not change, not even to save his life. Jeremiah requested that he not return to the cisterns, lest he die. King Zedekiah obliged.
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Granting Jeremiah’s request, Zedekiah had him transferred from the underground vaulted cistern to the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace (Jeremiah 32:2). Here Zedekiah could better protect Jeremiah from his enemies-though Zedekiah was a weak-willed protector (Jeremiah 38:4–10).”
Warren Wiersbe brings up a good point, “Zedekiah wanted the intercession of the man of God but not the instruction of the Word of God. He never should have separated the two (John 15:7; Acts 6:4). He wanted God to be his servant and deliver the city, but he was not willing to be God’s servant and obey the Word. Do you ask God for help only in emergencies, or do you seek His direction each day?”
In Jeremiah 38 the princes get wind of Jeremiah’s exhortation, that the city to surrender to the Babylonian, so they seize the prophet and bring him to the king. They accuse Jeremiah of being against the Jews:
Jeremiah 38:4 (NKJV) “Therefore the princes said to the king, ‘Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.’”
These men are oblivious to the fact that Jeremiah’s words were their only hope for survival, he didn’t seek their destruction but their salvation!
King Zedekiah was extremely weak. He gave Jeremiah into the hands of these foolish men who cast him into a miry pit to die. But God used Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian officer to rescue Jeremiah.
It’s actually pretty pathetic, but King Zedekiah, AGAIN inquires of Jeremiah, who aptly responds:
Jeremiah 38:15 (NKJV) “Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.’”
What a tragic place to be, religious enough to want to hear God’s truth, but warped enough to despise the messenger and disobey God.
If the people resisted God’s chastening, they would die, the city would be burned, the women would be ravished, the children dashed to pieces. If the people surrendered to God’s chastening through Babylon then they would be spared much of the heartache. Ultimately, the king was not a king, he was afraid to do the right thing, he was afraid for anyone to even know that he’d had this conversation with Jeremiah…and he paid the price…so did the people.
What a contrast between Jeremiah and Zedekiah. Jeremiah had the courage to obey God, Zedekiah didn’t. Jeremiah had a relationship with the Lord, he heard His voice, he was compelled to live and give God’s Word – Zedekiah on the other hand only had an anemic form of superficial and damnable religion.
1 Timothy 6:1-21
There were sixty-million slaves in the Roman world back then. Paul challenges those who were Christians to be faithful workers. Nowadays the exhortation would apply to employees. Paul reminds us to work so hard that our employers would be blessed by our witness, and if your boss is a believer, don’t slack and become a Christian-kick-back, instead serve them all the more because of the fact that now a believer benefits from your hard work.
There will always be those whose teachings are contradictory, so Paul warns Timothy not to consent. It’s tragic to consider the terrible traits of these false teachers listed in 1 Timothy 6:4-5 – proud, ignorant, arrogant, carnal, and covetous men who taught that godliness was a means of gain. I can’t help but think of the health, wealth, and prosperity teachers today – the men and women (usually on TV) getting filthy rich off of the people. One day God will judge them for the way they fleeced the flock.
What we find in life is that the rich person is actually the godly person clothed with contentment. Recently I read a refreshing testimony:
“I admired their complete contentment, with nothing of the material realm. All they needed was a box of raisins and some oats and they were ready to minister for God anywhere they were called. It was so beautiful, their simplicity of faith and trust in Jesus.” – Pastor Chuck Smith reflecting on hippies who came to know Christ.
All we really need is food and clothing; Jesus promised that our Father would always provide that, so we have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:25-33).
If we ever come to a place where we desire to be rich (lottery ticket purchasers beware) we fall into temptation, and become vulnerable to the snares of Satan, these are harmful lusts. It’s sad to see that many disciples have drowned in those types of troubled waters. Paul warns and informs us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, from which some have even strayed from the faith.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NLT) “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!”
Don’t follow after money, on the contrary follow after Jesus, seek the character of Christ. We must fight the good fight of faith till the day we see the Lord in glory. We must hold fast to our confession of Christ, and pastors must keep these commandments before the congregations in light of Jesus’ imminent return, He really is the King of kings!
Jesus’ confession before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13) was His affirmative answer to Pilate’s question ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ (see Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:33- 37)
One day (and it sure seems soon) Jesus will appear and we will see Him in ALL of His glory! (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
Earlier, Paul dealt with those who long to be rich, he now addresses those who are already rich. He tells Timothy to command them not to trust in uncertain riches (tomorrow it can all turn to dust) – NO! We are to trust in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. The rich are to be rich in good works, willing to share with those less fortunate and thereby laying up treasures that are eternal
Timothy…pastors, guard these things as a faithful shepherd would, for false teachers propagating false doctrine are tragically leading people astray.
At the time of the writing of this Psalm, Israel was in the middle of God’s severe discipline. The Psalmist uses strong and heartbreaking words.
Israel had been cast off, abhorred, ruined, cast down to the ground, covered with shame. The Psalmist felt as if God was furious with His people and had renounced His covenant.
It’s important to remember that God DOES discipline His children. We will reap what we’ve sown. Not that all heartache is due to sin, but for Israel, this was the case at this time in history.
Friends, we must learn from them, even from their mistakes which we have recorded in Scripture. Often times when God disciplines us, we blame it on God, when in all reality, we’ve brought it upon ourselves. We need to remember the spiritual laws of sowing and reaping!
Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
The Psalmist is wise in his closing in prayer, a plea for mercy. Just the fact that he’s talking to God means so much, especially the way he praises the Lord in the middle of the pain.
Psalm 89:52 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD forevermore! Amen and Amen.”
Can we say that in the middle of all we’re going through? Let’s praise Him by faith!
Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV) “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”
A city without walls, would be a city that is vulnerable to any attack, it’s for that reason this city is “broken down.” This is us, without the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control (Galatians 5:23).
Have you ever seen it? Someone who can’t control their tongue? They lash out at everyone.
Have you ever seen it? Someone who can’t control their temper? They’re like a time-bomb just waiting to “go off.”
Presented in a more positive light the flip side is over in:
Proverbs 16:32 (NKJV) He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
May God give us the grace and even the will-power, to let Jesus rule over our lives!
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.