Day 162: Judgment Day

Jeremiah 39:1-10

In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, a breach was made in the city. All the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate: Nergal Sharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal Sharezer, Rabmag, with all the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon. When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, then they fled and went out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah.

But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. When they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; and he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed Zedekiah’s sons in Riblah before his eyes. The king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.

The Chaldeans burned the king’s house and the people’s houses with fire and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, the deserters also who fell away to him, and the rest of the people who remained. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, who had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.

Just as God had spoken through Jeremiah, His judgment against Judah finally came. Zedekiah tried to run but ended up watching the murder of his sons before his eyes were removed. It’s tragic when you consider that he came so close to seeing God’s mercy instead. If he had simply believed Jeremiah when he begged him to surrender, he would have saved his sons, the people and the city.

Isn’t it amazing how much humans long to get away with sin? When punishment doesn’t come for a long time, we actually start to think that it will never come. We create what we think is a “new normal.” There is only one “normal” and it is the one that God considers to be normal. The only reason God had given them so much time was because He wanted them to repent and that’s the same way it is today. Back at that time, the issue was the destruction of God’s city, but what we face today is the destruction of the entire earth. It is coming. What is happing today isn’t the “new normal.” God’s just giving us time to repent before the time comes for Him to blow it all up and send sinners to their chosen destiny. Man-made global warming climate change is coming. It will happen when God burns up the earth as a result of man’s rebellion against Him. We are ruining the environment by our lies, murders, sexual sin and drug use.

There’s a precious surprise at the end of this part of Israel’s history. After burning the palace and the city, the captain of the guard of Babylon, decided to take the average people into custody and to leave the destitute people behind. Not only that, he gave them tillable land! God helped the poor even in this horrible time and gave them what they needed. God must have felt their pain the whole time. Notice that it is God’s will to give to the poor. I think it’s pretty obvious that God was paying attention to how these destitute people were being treated and turned the tables in His judgment. May God give us the heart to give to those who are in need before we lose everything we have to our own selfishness.

Day 160: The Sin of Omission

Jeremiah 38:19-23

Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.”

But Jeremiah said, “They won’t deliver you. Obey, I beg you, Yahweh’s voice, in that which I speak to you; so it will be well with you, and your soul will live. But if you refuse to go out, this is the word that Yahweh has shown me: ‘Behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house will be brought out to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women will say,

“Your familiar friends have turned on you,
and have prevailed over you.
Your feet are sunk in the mire,
they have turned away from you.”

They will bring out all your wives and your children to the Chaldeans. You won’t escape out of their hand, but will be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. You will cause this city to be burned with fire.’ ”

One of the most wicked things we can do is to fail to do anything. It is often called the sin of omission. It’s especially deceptive because we tend to think that we aren’t doing anything wrong, simply because we aren’t do anything at all. That’s the situation that God put king Zedekiah in. It’s pretty obvious that God was well aware of the fact that Zedekiah was more afraid of the people than he was of God’s word. All God had to do was set up this simple situation. King Zedekiah had the choice to surrender to Babylon and save Jerusalem and his family, or to remain silent and allow his family to be taken and the city to be burned. God makes it clear here that by simply doing nothing, Zedekiah would “cause this city to be burned with fire.”

The reason that Zedekiah gave for not surrendering, was that he was afraid of the Jews who had already defected to Babylon. If this is true, the King actually distrusted his own people more than the Babylonians! I think that Zedekiah was, what we would call today, paranoid. God didn’t call this a disease. He called it sin and we know why. Zedekiah chose to believe his own thoughts rather than to believe the word of God. I believe that the Bible is clear on this. When we choose to trust in our own understanding, we will eventually go crazy. God had clearly directed the king’s path if only he would have stopped leaning on his own understanding.

Notice how wicked this sin of omission is. The one who commits it chooses to continue in sin for a season at the expense of the lives of those around him. The king could have saved the lives of his own family and the families of many other people in the city. He could have even preserved the temple and the city walls that would later have to be rebuilt, but because he decided to lean on his own understanding, his fear lead to self protection which lead to mass destruction. May God help us to stop leaning on our own understanding and help us to rely on God so that we can become a blessing rather than a curse.