- Jer. 37:3-21; 38:1-28
It has been three or four years since Zedekiah king of Judah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Zedekiah was a proud man who obviously thought he was in control of his people’s fate. Over the next few years, GOD would use Nebuchadnezzar to humble Zedekiah. Even the most proud man can and will be humbled under the hand of GOD. You will kneel before the Sovereign LORD at some point. It is better to kneel for blessing than under His forceful hand.
Twice during today’s reading king Zedekiah secretly goes to Jeremiah and asks for counsel from GOD. GOD continues to give Zedekiah a choice, but time is running out.
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’”
19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have gone over to the Babylonians, for the Babylonians may hand me over to them and they will mistreat me.” 20 “They will not hand you over,” Jeremiah replied. “Obey the LORD by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the LORD has revealed to me: 22 All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon. Those women will say to you: “‘They misled you and overcame you—those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you.’ 23 “All your wives and children will be brought out to the Babylonians. You yourself will not escape from their hands but will be captured by the king of Babylon; and this city will be burned down.”
(Jer. 38:19-23 NIV)
When times of severe trouble come upon us, we realize that we never were in control and that GOD alone is who we must fear. There is an old war saying that goes, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.” (An atheist is a person who claims they don’t believe in GOD. A foxhole is a term that refers to the trench that soldiers dig and lie in when firing at an enemy army.) The point, of course, is that when you are being shot at by those who want to kill you, you very quickly become a believer in GOD. Fear does that, just as it did with Zedekiah, inspiring him to seek counsel of GOD through Jeremiah.