To Follow Jesus
My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
July/August 2014 Issue – ‘Poet of Hope’
Today’s text (two excerpts) for reading and meditation:
Jeremiah 52: 1-5, 27b-34 (NIV-UK): “Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.
Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. …
So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews; in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem; in his twenty-third year, 745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard. There were 4,600 people in all.
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.”
Let’s first start with some of the material that Selwyn has written.
“The book of Jeremiah ends in a slightly unexpected way, with the story of King Zedehiah,” and some details about the fate of Jehoiachin. Yet, there is no mention of Jeremiah.
“I found myself wondering as I came to the end of these meditations: why doesn’t the book end as it began with some reference to Jeremiah? … But then it occurred to me – the book is not so much about Jeremiah as about God’s Word that came to Jeremiah. So this closing chapter is very appropriate, as it shows how events turned out exactly as predicted in God’s Word.
The divine Word has always been fulfilled, is always fulfilled, and will always be fulfilled. Nations come and nations go but God’s Word endures forever. Hold firmly to it!”
A couple of comments; I noticed in the above verses, that the inevitable consequence of constant rebellion against God is the terrifying fact that, in the end, He will thrust unrepentant sinners from His presence.
Yet, how do you warn people about their terminal condition, if they don’t even believe in our holy God’s existence?
The other thing I noticed was the small number of people who were carried into exile – they were truly a small remnant of Judah’s population. And, as we read about the disastrous outcome that fell upon the rebellious people – their fate is even more startling when the fact sinks in – that they were from God’s chosen nation!
How much more, should we, His chosen people, be especially carefully to obey His commands and live by His Word, when we see what happened to His beloved nation?
I’m often amazed about how many people ignore the ‘tough’ words of Jesus in the Gospels; true, some of His harshest words are to be found in His parables, but they still indicate His attitude, for example, Luke 19:26-27, we hear Jesus say: “‘He replied, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.”’
Selwyn is right when he says: “God’s Word endures forever. Hold firmly to it.” In these last days, we should also add – “Don’t water down the truth of His Word to make it easier for the lazy and evil to claim that they honour Jesus, by the way they live.”