The day finally came, in 586 B.C. the Babylonian penetrated the city of Jerusalem, completely conquering the city. If you want to get an idea of the heartache, you can read ahead, in the book of Lamentations, also written by Jeremiah.
Three people stand out in Jeremiah 39: Zedekiah, Jeremiah, and Ebed-Melech.
King Zedekiah tried to escape, but was overtaken in the plains of Jericho, where the Babylonian army captured him, pronounced judgment upon him, slaughtered his sons before him, and gouged out his eyes so that the last thing he saw, was violent death of his family. If only Zedekiah had listened to the Word of God as spoken through Jeremiah!
Jeremiah, however, was spared. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was moved by the King of kings, and Jeremiah was taken from the court of the prison and entrusted into the care of Gedaliah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar made governor over the people who remained (2 Kings 25:22).
And then there’s Ebed-Melech. His life was also spared. You might remember that Ebed-Melech was the vessel God used to save Jeremiah from death (we read that back in chapter 38). God favored Ebed-Melech, and gives us the reason for that:
Jeremiah 39:18 (NKJV) “‘For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,’ says the LORD.”
Three people highlighted, one severely judged, one suffered for a season but was ultimately spared, and one’s life was lengthened, because he trusted in God and cared for God’s prophet (Jeremiah).
In Jeremiah 40 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard of Babylon granted Jeremiah his freedom. He was free to join him, and be taken care of by him in Babylon, or he was free to stay in Jerusalem with the appointed Governor, Gedaliah.
It’s interesting to me that even Nebuzaradan was aware of why Jerusalem had been judged:
Jeremiah 40:2–3 (NKJV) “And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him: ‘The LORD your God has pronounced this doom on this place. 3 Now the LORD has brought it, and has done just as He said. Because you people have sinned against the LORD, and not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing has come upon you.’”
Here’s a foreign soldier with more spiritual sensitivity than almost all the people of God back then. I hope we take this to heart, “God said it, that settles it,” He will prosper the obedient, and He will punish the disobedient! (Matthew 7:24-27; Galatians 6:7-8)
Jeremiah chose to stay in Jerusalem, to support Governor Gedaliah. Others began to gather as well from many places, God was starting to do a new work. Gedaliah was well aware of God’s will in yielding to the Babylonians, but he lacked discernment regarding Ishmael. Gedaliah was too trusting. Johanan tried to warn him but he would not heed the warning:
Jeremiah 40:13–14 (NKJV) “Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, 14 and said to him, ‘Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?’ But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them.”
A couple of things to consider. First of all, the enemy is ALWAYS against the Jews, coming against God’s people and does not want them to regroup, or prosper in any way. Secondly, and this seems to be a recurring theme in Jeremiah, we MUST heed the warnings! God warns us, prophets warn us, people like Johanan warn us. Will we listen?
“A friend is one who warns you.” – Ancient Proverb
In Jeremiah 41 Ishmael carries out his wicked plan. Apparently he’s part of the royal family (Jeremiah 41:1) and is loyal to King Zedekiah. He sees those in Mizpah as traitors and therefore deals treacherously with them. I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes it’s difficult to discern what to do, or who’s in the right. But what I’ve learned in life is to sincerely seek the Lord in these matters. If we’re in tune with Him, we’ll be in tune with each other. Ishmael wasn’t in tune with God, he was of his father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
Warren Wiersbe summarized the situation well, “Was Gedaliah a bit naive? Did he have too much faith in human nature? Perhaps…he should at least have taken precautions to protect his life. Ishmael was loyal to Zedekiah (Jeremiah 41:1) and rejected the rule of the governor. His love for the fallen king was greater than his love for God, others, and the nation. He was more concerned about revenge than righteousness. What could have been a peaceful transition became a civil war—all because of one man’s wickedness.”
Thank God Johanan rescued a remnant, but now they’re not sure what to do. Should they run to Egypt? Or should they stay in the land? In the next chapter we’ll see the story unfold.
2 Timothy 1:1-18
We now begin what very well might be my favorite book in the Bible. 2 Timothy was Paul’s last letter, his swan song written right before his execution. In this letter we’ll see how Paul shares his heart, his care for the church, his passion for the purity of the gospel, and especially his love and concern for Timothy his son in the faith.
Paul begins by thanking the God whom he served and by letting Timothy know that he prayed for him, night and day. Paul had this deep desire to see Timothy before he died. Apparently the last time they parted, tears were flowing down the eyes of his spiritual son, and one last meeting would bring Paul joy.
As Paul considers Timothy, he has nothing but fond memories. He goes back to the early days (Acts 16) Paul knew Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, how they possessed a genuine faith, and it was something they passed along to Timothy as well (2 Timothy 3:15). Sometimes you see it more clearly in certain Christians, there’s no doubt about it, they’re legit, they’re real, there’s a genuine faith.
Building on his call to salvation Paul next deals with Timothy’s call to service. Timothy appears to be a bit timid, even fearful, but if he’s going to be the one to whom Paul passes the baton, that’s absolutely unacceptable! Paul’s letter would largely be an encouragement to Timothy to stir up the gift of God that was in him; to fan that flame into a raging fire for the glory of God. Timothy, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
If only we all would take this to heart – we must not be fazed by or function in fear, we can’t make decisions because we’re afraid of him, or her, or this, or that, we need to keep God in the equation. We have God’s love and His power. He’s given us a sound mind, let’s be mentally strong and fortified. I’ll be the first to tell you, the mind is a battlefield; it’s crucial to win those battles in the mind.
Paul commands Timothy not to be ashamed or afraid, but to be willing to suffer for the gospel, not that we have a martyr’s syndrome, but we must answer this call of Christ on our lives.
I’ve always loved the way 2 Timothy 1:9 reminds us that this calling is not because we’ve earned it or worked our way up the spiritual ladder, it’s only because of God’s gracious purpose for our lives…something given to us before time began (see also Jeremiah 1:5).
That plan was set in motion when Jesus came (appeared) abolished death (I like that) and brought everlasting life to light through the gospel – a gospel that Paul was appointed to preach and teach, and for which he suffered. Paul, however, was not ashamed and he didn’t regret his labor of love, because he knew the Lord, and he knew this gospel was true for himself as well.
Paul calls Timothy to hold fast and tight to the truth of this Gospel, that the people and the ministry, could only be protected and directed by the Holy Spirit. It’s heartbreaking to read how all those in Asia had turned away from Paul (they didn’t want to suffer). It’s beautiful to read about Onesiphorus who vigorously searched for Paul in his Roman prison, found him, and often refreshed him. Paul prays for blessings upon his family and that God would greatly reward him on the Day of Rewards, for his true and practical love.
Keep the faith my friend; let your love for the Lord and others be obedient and practical…one day Jesus will reward you.
Psalm 90 is identified as a Psalm of Moses – and I love the way it refers to him as, “the man of God.”
Moses may have written this when the brunt of the judgment of Kadesh Barnea was being felt the worst. Although the LORD was their dwelling place in all generations, the nation was now feeling the sentence for their sins. Israel’s wandering in the wilderness was a four-decade funeral march. Moses described these years as “evil” in Psalm 90:15.
Moses prayed for God to reestablish Israel – the work of God’s hands.
Moses asked God to teach them something critical in life:
Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Have we grasped this teaching? We tend to number our years, but it would be better to number our days, to enjoy, appreciate, and live each day for the glory of God. No one has tomorrow guaranteed (James 4:13-14).
Moses prays for God to “return,” that God would satisfy them and make them glad.
God answer the prayer of Moses, and under the leadership of Joshua, the nation entered in to the Promised Land.
Moses closed the Psalm with a beautiful prayer:
Psalm 90:17 (NKJV) “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Psalm 91 is a “classic” Psalm depicting God’s Divine protection as we abide (rest) under the shadow of His wings.
Warren Wiersbe wrote this about Psalm 91, “The theme is security: God preserves those who abide in Him and love Him. These promises are not for people who run to the Lord only in times of danger but for those who dwell in His presence (Psalm 91:1) and make the Holy of Holies their habitation (Psalm 91:9).”
We have nothing to fear, and we are reminded of the “invincible principal,” that no evil can touch us unless God allows it, and if He does, He will use it for our good (Genesis 50:20).
A while back I taught this Psalm at a different church, and after a service a dear sister came up and told me that Psalm 91:1 is her 9-1-1. If you’re ever afraid or in danger, remember, you’re in God’s hands and He has set His love on you (Psalm 91:14) – just call and claim Psalm 91:1.
God’s promise to protect us from pestilence is a great passage to remember in these days of Covid.
Psalm 91:9–10 (NKJV) “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”
Proverbs 26:1 (NKJV) “As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.”
Giving honor to a fool is not fitting, it’s inappropriate, wrong, and even damaging. Often times we put athletes and celebrities on pedestals and give them accolades and trophies, next thing you know our children and all society begins to follow in their footsteps.
If it’s something we do, honoring the dishonorable, we’ll experience a decay in society. We will suffer the consequences.
Proverbs 26:8 (NKJV) “Like one who binds a stone in a sling is he who gives honor to a fool.”
That stone will come back to bonk us on our own heads.
And then we have the other end of the spectrum:
Proverbs 26:2 (NKJV) “Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The unpredictable, fluttering nature of a bird’s flight demonstrates a person’s inability to place a curse on another who does not deserve it.”
Balaam discover this truth in:
Numbers 23:8 (NKJV) “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
This is the blessing we have as God’s children – no one can curse us, for in Christ, the curse has been reversed (Galatians 3:13).
Deuteronomy 23:4–5 (NKJV) “They hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.”
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.