Sunday, August 2, 2020

From Mire To The Court

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

 We left off with King Zedekiah putting God’s Prophet in the dungeon, at the request of the King’s Princes. Zedekiah acquiesced, and let them do as they wished. He admitted he was powerless over his underlings. 

I suspect that Zedekiah was in fear of the Princes under him; most likely they were placed as Princes by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who also installed Zedekiah on Jerusalem’s throne. Oh! What a wicked web men can weave! King Zedekiah’s reign over Jerusalem was as compromised as the Jewish faith of those that lived there. 

Love begets love, and wickedness begets more wickedness. And compromise begets more compromise. For Zedekiah, his own faith was so compromised that he did not recognize the words of the Prophet as the Word from God. But there are serious doubts about his Jewish heritage. Though Zedekiah is a lovely name with Jewish underpinnings, Zedekiah was named Mattaniah by his mother, a woman named Hamutal who was a daughter of a different Jeremiah, from the city of Libnah (25 miles WSW of Jerusalem, in the hills of Judea.). 

Somewhere along the way, a Jewish woman spent time with a Babylonian, and Mattaniah/Zedekiah was born. Marrying outside your Jewish tribe was a compromise. At the time, a Jew marrying outside of Judaism is far beyond a compromise. Zedekiah was a compromised King in more ways than one. 

We only have to look at our own leaders 3,000 years later. We can identify good ones and bad ones. We can identify them in other countries too. Jesus gave us perhaps the most important tool to help us see men as they really are: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). We can discern the kind of people we would want to be friends with, and those that we should be avoiding. If someone draws us closer to Christ and our beliefs, that person is likely a keeper. But if their friendship draws us away from Christ and His righteousness, it is time to re-evaluate the friendship.

Jesus told us that He alone is the “way, the truth, and the life.” He said “no man gets to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” ~ John 3:18
Compromise? It’s just not worth it!

 Today's Audio Message: "From Mire To The Court"

Continuing in chapter 38 in the book of Jeremiah, we learned that Jeremiah had been cast down to the dungeon to die in the mire after delivering God's Word to the people. The king who delivered him once before, and promised to feed him had again changed his mind.  Why?  Proverbs 29:25 tells us, "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."  Well we know this king wasn't putting his trust in the Lord, he was a king that scripture tells us did wicked in the eyes of the Lord.  Zedekiah feared the officials under him. Even kings are rendered powerless by compromise. He was weak, compromised, and fearful.

In spite of the king's decision, God had other plans for Jeremiah. All of a sudden, what appears to be out of nowhere, a gentile comes to Jeremiah’s rescue. Ebed-Melech was a eunuch in the kings court who pleads for Jeremiah’s life.  This man is from Ethiopia. Now, Ethiopians in the Old Testament were sometimes called upon as mercenary fighters. So, this man is in Jerusalem probably fighting alongside the Judeans. He’s on their side. He’s no traitor.

And yet, he for some reason cares about what happens to Jeremiah. We will find out why in the next chapter. His concern over the evil injustice of Jeremiah's plight, and his boldness to speak up on Jeremiah's behalf publicly,  speaks volumes of his character. And just as Zedekiah caved to to the wicked officials, he flip flops again and grants the request of the eunuch to release him. A double-minded man like Zedekiah is unstable in all his ways. He wavers and such a one like a wave of the sea – driven with the wind and tossed.

Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to answer His question, and wants a truthful answer. Jeremiah responds cautiously knowing not to trust this king. Nevertheless, the king gives Jeremiah assurance of his safety if he answers the king’s question.  Jeremiah is faithful to God, and once again delivers His Word to Zedekiah. God demands obedience and surrender, if he obeys he will live, if not he will die. The fear of man brings a deadly snare. It's decision time for this king.  The ball is in his court.  God delivered his warning, and now he must choose.  Will he follow the Lord, or will he die?

Jeremiah face much persecution proclaiming God's Word, just as we will. Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."  John 15:20.  But we do not have to fear them!  Jeremiah feared the Lord, not kings, princes, priests, or armies, and that’s exactly what God calls us to do. Be faithful, God has a plan!

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