Day 213: A Lesson from King Zedekiah’s Life

Jeremiah 52:1-11

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign. He reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He did that which was evil in Yahweh’s sight, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through Yahweh’s anger this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. In the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built forts against it round about. So the city was besieged to the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.

In the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was severe in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled, and went out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden. Now the Chaldeans were against the city all around. The men of war went toward the Arabah, but the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; and he pronounced judgment on him. The king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. He also killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in fetters, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison until the day of his death.

Zedekiah’s story is a sharp rebuke to all of us. He was the one who allowed Jeremiah to be thrown in jail, only to secretly let him out when no one was looking. He was more afraid of men than of God. Here we see where that kind of behavior took him in his life. He ended up being the king who went down in history as the one that lost Jerusalem. He is the one that God brought down His final judgment upon.

While Zedekiah was in Jerusalem, Jeremiah was afflicted. Remember that he was thrown into a muddy well and then confined in jail. When we read those things it seemed so unfair and it was, but in the end, Jeremiah won. Zedekiah was taken captive into Babylon and Jeremiah was allowed to go wherever he wanted and He chose to stay there in Judah. Zedekiah’s punishment was severe. His eyes were put out after watching his children be put to death. This shows us what God thinks of it when His prophets are mistreated. Zedekiah was always expecting God to save Him, but refused to listen to or believe in God’s words.

Even if you are sometimes nice to Christians and pray, it doesn’t mean that you will be saved from Hell. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Zedekiah did some good things but the most important thing was missing and that was faith in God’s word. God warned him over and over that Babylon was coming. He even told him that it was possible to surrender and avoid destruction, but Zedekiah would not believe God. He chose to do things his own way. May unbelievers be given eyes to see and turn to the truth and be saved, and may we as Christians continue in faith every day and avoid being foolish like Zedekiah was.

Day 147: Accepting God’s Plan for Us

Jeremiah 34:1-7

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.

Day 136: God’s Dark Comedy

Jeremiah 32:1-5

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. Now at that time the king of Babylon’s army was besieging Jerusalem. Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy, and say, ‘Yahweh says, “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah won’t escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but will surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes will see his eyes; and he will bring Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him,” says Yahweh, “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you will not prosper?” ’ ”

There’s a sense in which God has a dark sense of humor and I believe we are reading about one of those times in our passage today. The end of Jerusalem was at hand and Jeremiah had clearly shown himself to be a prophet of God. Here we learn that king Zedekiah of Judah didn’t like what Jeremiah was saying about him and the kingdom and decided to lock him up. That’s not funny at all, but what is funny is how God tells us about these things.

Doesn’t it strike you as a bit sarcastic that God would record in His book for all the world to see, king Zedekiah’s own words about the events. He clearly states Jeremiah’s message while explaining why he decided to lock him up. These words are so clear that you and I can read them and know exactly what happened. Jeremiah obviously did his job perfectly and king Zedekiah clearly understood his words enough to complain about them. All God had to do was record the king’s complaint. Now it serves as an obvious record that the king heard God’s word and purposefully chose to fight against it and even decided to persecute His messenger. God simply records the words and allows us to see that what Jeremiah said happened exactly as he said it would.

God hates faithlessness. The Bible tells us that He mocks the mockers and that’s what we experience as we consider this passage. God will also avenge those who take persecution for Him. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Let this serve as a warning to us all. When God says something, let’s wise up and simply accept it, and when mockers think they are mocking God, they should beware because they are probably being used by God to destroy themselves.