Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 29, 2011

The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry while Josiah was King of Judah. Josiah served the LORD and brought revival to the land. However, when Josiah dies his son Jehoahaz, also called Shallum, becomes king for 3 months. He does not follow in his father's footsteps. Instead 2 Kings 23:32 says "He did evil in the sight of the LORD." Thus God sends Pharaoh Neco to Jerusalem and he captures Jehoahaz and places his brother, Jehoiakim, on the throne of Judah.
Jeremiah 22 is God confronting Jehoahaz with his sin and declaring his loss of the kingdom. Jeremiah 22:13-17 is a message for Jehoahaz, but it is also a message for us. God reminds the king that his father was a man of justice and righteousness, but he is one who cares only for himself. Selfishness is still hated by God today. We are called to love others more than ourselves.

Jeremiah 23 condemns the shepherds (leaders) of Judah and the lying prophets. God is always angered by leaders who care for themselves and do not take care of their people. God states that the shepherds of Judah do not care, heal, protect, nor feed their sheep, but instead they scatter them. Today believers are all shepherds in some form or another. Anyone who has influence over others is a shepherd and God calls us to care for the sheep.

Jeremiah 24 finds the people of Judah under Babylonian rule. Jehoiakim rules Judah for 12 years. In 597 B.C. his son Jehoiachin becomes king. However, he rules for only a few months and Nebuchadnezzar replaces him with Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.). It was during 597 B.C. that Nebuchadnezzar takes several officials and craftsmen to Babylon. Daniel will be one of those taken. In chapter 24 Jeremiah sees the two baskets of figs. The good figs represent those going to Babylon and the bad figs represent those left in Judah.

Jeremiah 25 is an important prophecy of the time frame of the exile. Here God states that the exile will last 70 years. God also declares that the Babylonian Empire will fall to the Persians.
God makes it clear that He is about to bring punishment to the nations. It will not be stopped.

Just as Jeremiah was an instrument to speak the words of the LORD to Judah, God's Word (the Bible) speaks today. It calls us to be righteous and holy. It calls us to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. It calls us to stand firm in our faith and trust the LORD to protect us.
The world today seems to be spilling out of control. God is however, still in control. We must trust Him with our lives, our families, our future. Jeremiah 26 tells us that Jeremiah's faithfulness to God almost got him killed. The truth is Jesus said that His people will be mistreated, imprisoned, and killed for following Him. Not a pretty picture, but death is only a gate to eternity with Jesus. Praise the Lord.

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