Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CHronological Reading Plan for Aug 17, Jer 38-40, Psalms 74, 79

Today's readings are Jer 38-40, Psalms 74, 79. Tomorrow's are 2 Kings 24-25 and 2 Chron 36. 

In Jer 37, Jerusalem is under siege by the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar's rule. Jeremiah warns king Zedekiah to surrender and allow the city to be taken captive. "Zedekiah" is the name given to Mattaniah by Nebuchadnezzar, who made him king of Judah with the understanding that he would fall under Nebuchadnezzar's rule. Zedekiah seems to sympathize with Jeremiah but is indecisive upon hearing the counsel of his advisers, a pattern that repeats itself throughout the siege with the king alternately showing Jeremiah mercy then punishment.  Zedekiah's lack of willingness to exhibit strong leadership becomes a blessing and curse to Jeremiah and ultimately will lead to the fall of Jerusalem. 

The Egyptians begin to intervene on behalf of Jerusalem and the Babylonians turn their attention to Judah's apparent allies, giving Jerusalem a respite. Jeremiah warns Zedekiah that this is only temporary and Jerusalem will fall. He again encourages the king to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. The king's advisers counsel him that Jeremiah is wrong. Ultimately, Babylon turns its focus back on Jerusalem, nearly destroying it and Zedekiah is taken captive with disastrous results. The Babylonian army takes Judah captive and marches them into exile in Babylon.

Psalms 74 and 79 reflect the fear and frustration of the battle as the psalmist sees the enemy overwhelming Jerusalem. He please for God to intervene for His own sake and for the sake of His reputation. Yet, God's might and sovereign authority are acknowledged and proclaimed in Ps 74:12-17 and in PSalm 79:8-10. Psalms like these remind us that there can be moments of fear and doubt in our walk. They do not condemn us but, even in our fear and doubt, we should repent of our sins, keeping our focus on God and His promises.  

Nebuchadnezzar's man, Nebuzaradan (apparently there are lots of "Nebus-" in Babylon 😊), recognizes Jeremiah's counsel would have avoided a lot of bloodshed and affords Jeremiah, who almost gets caught up with those being taken into exile, tremendous latitude, allowing him to stay in Judah and do as he pleases, turning him over to Gedaliah, an influential political ruler.  Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian who helped Jeremiah get out of the cistern is spared as well. 

Meanwhile, survivors and outcasts return to a decimated Jerusalem and Judah. 

Once again, we see the awesome sovereign authority God has as He does exactly what he said He would do to Judah and uses pagan armies and leaders to accomplish his divine will and purpose. 

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