The future for Judah and Jerusalem looked very dire. The message coming from the “false” prophets with their words of speedy deliverance and the return of prosperity was starting to sound rather hollow.
Jeremiah chapter 38 reveals that things had got so desperate that King Zedekiah sought out the prophet to seek God’s message and reveal His will for the people.
Jeremiah told the king that if they surrendered to the Babylonians, the City, its people and the king himself would be spared. The prophet further told Zedekiah that if they continued to resist, the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and the king and populace would fall into the hands of the Babylonian army and those who were not killed would be carried into captivity.
King Zedekiah as it later proved, was hoping for something more in line with his own wishes and not at all interested in heeding the prophet’s message of warning from God. As a result of his own fears and lack of faith, rather than surrender peaceably, he fled by night, hoping to escape the wrath of the Babylonian king. He only got as far as Jericho before the Babylonian soldiers caught up with him, was taken to Riblah in the land of Hamath to King Nebuchadnezer who then killed his sons and put out his eyes.
Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled to the letter as Jerusalem was burned and the majority of the people carried off to Babylon except for the poorest of the people and the prophet himself.
Sometime later Gedaliah the man left by the Babylonians as governor was assassinated in a cowardly attack by Ishmael, one of the members of the royal family still in the land. This man carried off some of the people but was pursued by Johanan the son of Kareah and the captives rescued.
Johanan and the remaining leaders and people were unsure of what to do, whether to stay or flee. They approached Jeremiah to receive guidance from the Lord. They vowed to hear and follow the Commands of God received through the prophet and Jeremiah relayed God’s message and assured the remnant of the people that if they remained in the land they would be safe.
Far more God promised to bless the people and sustain them but also warned them that, if they remained disobedient and sought to flee to Egypt, the disaster they feared would catch up to them there.
Obviously this was not the answer they were hoping for. The self appointed spokesman of the people accused Jeremiah of lying about God’s actual message. They claimed that the prophet’s former spokesman Baruch had put him up to it, to get back at them. They as Zedekiah and the Jewish leaders before them did not like the answer they received because it involved faith in God and ran counter to their own desires.
So the Jewish remnant lock, stock and barrel, fled to Tahpanhes in Egypt, carrying the unwilling prophet with them.
Do we not see this tendency among us today?
We want God to show us the way but when He points us in a direction or guides in the path we do not like, we go ahead and choose our own way.
We must all examine ourselves and ask, are we truly seeking God’s will for ourselves and the Church and are we willing to hear and obey what God has revealed to us in His’ authentic , Biblical Word. Or are we only interested in the revelation which caters to our earthly desires and wishes and hopefully get heaven into the bargain?
There are many today who purport to brings us a message for God but like the false prophets of old they preach smooth things which exalt our egos and harmonize with our earthly aspirations and make no mention of our sinfulness and need for repentance and obedience.
Rather let us be willing not only to hear but to obey what God says to us in His holy Word.
Seeing things in Black and White!
Colour television was a long time coming in my country. So when I was growing up all the programs were black and white even if originally made in colour.
While the appearance of colour television added a new dimension to our viewing it very quickly became common-place and something we gave little thought to. Indeed I for one still hark back to those days because what we lacked in colour was made up for the quality and comparative wholesomeness of the programs we watched as children.
Some filmmakers persisted in making films in black and white because they felt it enhanced the drama of their work. We see this in the continued popularity of old films. The performances and story lines absorb us to such an extent that we give no heed to the lack of colour.
However some people seeking to re-release old films, have felt it necessary to colourize them to make them more marketable for this modern age. Many film “purists” deplore this and insist on turning the colour down.
It seems to me that many people today are trying to colourize the gospel. The black and whites of God’s revealed truth and saving word are not appealing to modern man, so those who would attract him to the “cause” daub the gospel message with bright colours and rosier hues: each one working from his own palette .
Someone splashes a lot of gold about the scene, while another daubs the sky with perpetual blue, all the while rubbing out the Dark black clouds which sometimes threaten judgment.
Unfortunately many of these self appointed daubers are in fact colour-blind. They cannot see that the spectrum of the gospel of Christ already has colours all its own, if only we have eyes to see them.
All at Sea!
The old saying is if you want to learn to pray, go to sea.
One can imagine in the days of sail, being at the mercy of wind and wave in mountainous seas. A storm on land is scary enough, but bobbing about on the sea like a cork must be terrifying.
Even today with propeller powered ships of ever increasing size, extreme weather conditions are always a matter of concern.
The dangers of a ship at sea have always been used as an analogy for the experience of the Christian life.
Imagine all the varieties of experience a ship and its crew undergoes on their numerous voyages. Long periods of smooth sailing interspersed with moments of drama and even peril.
To have a sound ship and a capable crew is imperative but the fact is much of what happens to a ship is beyond any ones control.
Many times throughout voyage of the Christian life, the wind and waves swamp him and threaten to capsize his life and rob him of peace.
It is here that the fundamentals and reality of our Christianity are exercised and tested.
To cultivate the habit of Bible study, prayer, praise and thanksgiving in day to day living coupled with close reliance on God’s sustaining power, are imperative to keep us afloat when storms assail and rocks appear before us.
The Christian is in a sad state if they only really pray when they have tried everything else first and cast on it as a last resort: also the Christian who does not know or study his Bible casts away the chart needed to navigate life’s shoals and reefs.
To carry on the analogy, I wonder how many of us look on prayer as a lifebuoy which is reassuring to have nearby if the ship sinks but we hope we never need to rely on it.
Whatever the perceived difficulties of prayer it was never meant to be a last ditch way of deliverance but our constant privilege and support.