The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, with all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion, and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities, saying: “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, ‘Go, and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Yahweh says, “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire. You won’t escape out of his hand, but will surely be taken and delivered into his hand. Your eyes will see the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he will speak with you mouth to mouth. You will go to Babylon.” ’
“Yet hear Yahweh’s word, O Zedekiah king of Judah. Yahweh says concerning you, ‘You won’t die by the sword. You will die in peace; and with the burnings of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will make a burning for you. They will lament you, saying, “Ah Lord!” for I have spoken the word,’ says Yahweh.”
Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, when the king of Babylon’s army was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and against Azekah; for these alone remained of the cities of Judah as fortified cities.
Sometimes, something God makes clear to us about our future seems very negative. We may ask and He may refuse to change His mind about it. It can happen that eventually, we realize that God is saving us and actually our future is much better than we thought. I think we get a glimpse of this kind of thing when we consider what happened to King Zedekiah of Judah.
When he heard Jeremiah’s “negative” message, the king put him in jail, but it appears that God told him to repeat the prophesy about his capture by the king of Babylon. At this point, it was pretty obvious that Judah was losing the war. There were only two fortified cities left. My thought is that King Zedekiah could see “the writing on the wall” so to speak. Instead of worrying about the negativity of Jeremiah’s prophesies, he may have started to be worried about being killed.
The funny thing is that all Jeremiah had to do was repeat his original words, only this time, they sounded much more positive. God’s word to Zedekiah really was positive. God promised that Zedekiah wasn’t going to be killed. On top of that, he was going to be given an honorable burial after dying in peace. Even so, some horrible things were to happen to him as we read later.
As I considered this passage, I began to wonder what might have happened had the Assyrians or the Egyptians captured King Zedekiah. Would they have killed him? King Zedekiah wasn’t a good guy even though God was trying to be good to Him. Still, God was going to keep His word as we will see.
I believe that had King Zedekiah simply given in to God and His word sooner, things could have gone much better for him. This is a lesson to us. Even if God’s plan for us seems negative, it would be wise for us to accept it and reconsider how it may be saving us. May God give us peace as we simply trust in His plan for us.