The Pursuit of God

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Know Your Bible Lesson 30: The Yoke of Babylon

KYB 30

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

In our last lesson, we learned that King Nebuchadnezzar [nebb-uh-kuh-NEH-zar] of the Babylonian Empire got his army spanked during a battle with Egypt. Withdrawing to his capital city of Babylon, he takes a break from war until his men have a chance to recover. But while he’s building his troops back up, nations see his crippled state as an opportunity to rebel. Three years go by with King Jehoiakim of Judah refusing to pay the tribute that Nebuchadnezzar demands. Nebuchadnezzar can get along without the wealth, but if he lets this rebellion go unchecked for too long, portions of his empire will begin breaking away. He needs to get back on the road again to pass out some serious spankings. The nation of Syria is first on his list. From there, he’ll work his way south to Judah.

While Nebuchadnezzar gets his army in motion, Judah is already at war with other nations who are raiding her land. Things really take a turn for the worse when the raiders kill King Jehoiakim [jeh-HOY-uh-kim] and throw his body over the wall of Jerusalem. But then again, it’s rather nice having the jerk dead and no one mourns his passing, just as Jeremiah had predicted in Lesson 28:

“The people of Judah will not cry when Jehoiakim dies, saying: ‘Oh, my brother,’ or ‘Oh, my sister.’ They will not cry for him, saying: ‘Oh, master,’ or ‘Oh, my king.’ He will be buried like a donkey, dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.” (Jer. 22:18-19)

SEVENTY YEARS IN EXILE

Jehoiakim’s rough death isn’t the only thing Jeremiah has predicted. Everyone remembers a time about seven years ago when the prophet really went fruit. First, he predicted that Judah and all her surrounding nations would have to serve Babylon for seventy years.

“Because you have not obeyed My words, I am going to send for all the families of the north and I will send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will bring them against this land, against its residents, and against all these surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them a horror, a derision, and an everlasting desolation. I will eliminate the sound of joy and gladness from them—the voice of the groom and the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.” (Jer. 25:8-11)

After the seventy years were up, Yahweh promised to destroy Babylon. But still, that’s seventy years away—that’s a long time to live under oppression. The people would like to pretend Jeremiah never said these words, but they can’t and neither can the nations around them. No one can forget how bizarrely Jeremiah acted at that time…

PROPHETIC ACTION: Yahweh’s Cup of Wrath

This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and make all the nations I am sending you to drink from it. They will drink, stagger, and go mad because of the sword I am sending among them.” (Jer. 25:15-16)

After telling everyone about the seventy years of oppression, Jeremiah had then taken a cup with wine in it and traveled to many nations. Everywhere he went, he thrust his cup into the faces of random people and yelled at them to drink out of it. It was highly embarrassing for Judah—not at all the kind of thing they wanted to be associated with.

“Then you are to say to them: This is what Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Drink, get drunk, and vomit! Fall down and never get up again because of the sword I am sending among you!’

If they refuse to take the cup from you and drink, then you are to say to them: This is what Yahweh of Hosts says: ‘You must drink! For I am already bringing disaster on the city that bears My Name, so how could you possibly go unpunished? Indeed, you will not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth.’” (Jer. 25:27-29) 

cup of wrath

How can you forget a guy who acts like this? All the people can do is hope that Jeremiah has lost a few of his marbles. If he hasn’t, then the world as they know it is in for terrible trouble.

“Yahweh roars from heaven; He raises His Voice from His holy dwelling. He roars loudly over His grazing land; He calls out with a shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. The tumult reaches to the ends of the earth because Yahweh brings a case against the nations. He enters into judgment with all flesh. As for the wicked, He hands them over to the sword.

This is what Yahweh of Hosts says: ‘Pay attention! Disaster spreads from nation to nation. A great storm is stirred up from the ends of the earth.’

Those slain by Yahweh on that day will be spread from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned, gathered, or buried. They will be like manure on the surface of the ground. (Jer. 25:30-33)

No one likes to think of themselves as manure. Jeremiah has a very dirty mouth and no one likes to see him coming. Besides, he has to be exaggerating. Yahweh can’t really be that mad and meanwhile, there are more important issues at hand. Jehoiakim is dead and someone needs to be put on the throne.

JEHOIACHIN, King of Judah

Jehoiakim has an 18-year-old son named Jehoiachin [jeh-HOY-uh-kin]. He’s young, but he’ll have to do. Unfortunately, he turns out to be just as wicked as his father was. And now rumors are starting to spread that Nebuchadnezzar’s on the warpath again. Oh, terrific, here comes that nutcase Jeremiah. Looks like he’s heading over to the palace to tell off the new king.

“‘As surely as I live,’ says Yahweh, ‘even if you, King Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, were a signet ring on My right hand, I still would tear you off. I am going to hand you over to those you dread because they want to take your life: to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to the Chaldeans. I will hurl both you and your mother into another land, where neither of you were born, and there you will both die. You will long to return to this land, but you never will.’

Jehoiachin is like a broken pot someone threw away; he is like something no one wants. Why will Jehoiachin and his children be thrown out and sent into a foreign land? Land, land, land of Judah, hear the word of Yahweh! This is what Yahweh says: ‘Record this man as childless, a man who will not be successful in his lifetime. None of his descendants will succeed in sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’” (Jer. 22:24-30)

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S SECOND ATTACK ON JUDAH

Jehoiachin’s only been on the throne a couple of months when Nebuchadnezzar invades Judah and lays siege to Jerusalem. In just one month he captures it, deposes Jehoiachin and puts 21-year-old Zedekiah on the throne in his place. Zedekiah is another son of Josiah and the uncle of Jehoiachin. After ravaging the land for another month, Nebuchadnezzar finally pulls out with 10,000 captives in tow. Among them are young Jehoiachin and a 25-year-old priest named Ezekiel. Why can’t Jeremiah ever be one of the captives? It sure would be nice if he would just leave and stop freaking everyone out with his messages of doom.

THE BASKET OF FIGS

As the 10,000 exiles troop away, Yahweh comes to Jeremiah with a new vision. This time it’s two baskets of figs. In the first basket the figs look luscious and ready to eat. But the second basket is full of figs that are super rotten and yuck.

Then the word of Yahweh came to me: “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: Like these good figs, so I regard as good the exiles from Judah I sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans [chal-DEE-ins]. I will keep My eyes on them for their good and will return them to this land. I will build them up and not demolish them; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Yahweh. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart.

But as for the bad figs, so bad they are inedible, this is what Yahweh says: in this way I will deal with King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem—those remaining in this land and those living in the land of Egypt. I will make them an object of horror and disaster to all the kingdoms of the earth. They will be a disgrace, an object of scorn, ridicule, and cursing, wherever I banish them. I will send the sword, famine, and plague against them until they have perished from the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.” (Jer. 24:4-10)

Oh. So it turns out that Yahweh has just deported a bunch of people He likes—such as that priest named Ezekiel. Somehow they’re getting the easy way out—they’re going to get His favor. In fact, Jeremiah has just written out some pleasant prophecy for the exiles which he’s sent a man to go deliver to them in Babylon. In it, Yahweh instructs the exiles to settle down into their new home, marry, have kids, and support the Babylonian cause since their welfare depends on that empire doing well. As for all the prophets in their midst who keep saying that deliverance is coming soon—they’re just a bunch of windbags. No one is going anywhere until the seventy year sentence is up.

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to Yahweh for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in My Name. I have not sent them,” declares Yahweh.

This is what Yahweh says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares Yahweh, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares Yahweh, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares Yahweh, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jer. 29:7-14)

So the exiles get to have hope. But Yahweh doesn’t have anything nice to say to those who were left behind in Jerusalem.

“But this is what Yahweh says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— yes, this is what Yahweh Almighty says: ‘I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. For they have not listened to My words,’ declares Yahweh, ‘words that I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,’ declares Yahweh.” (Jer. 29:16-19)

No one has been listening to Yahweh in Judah, which is why He’s giving everyone some form of a spanking. But the exiles who have been taken away will fare much better in the long run than those left behind. This is what God says, but it’s not what two false prophets are saying who were carried off among the 10,000 exiles. These two men—whose names are Ahab and Zedekiah—are telling the people all kinds of lies in Yahweh’s Name. They’re raising false hopes and countering the instructions in Jeremiah’s letter. Well, Yahweh has special plans in store for them.

“Therefore, hear the word of Yahweh, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah [coal-EYE-yah] and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah [mass-SAY-yah], who are prophesying lies to you in My Name: I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May Yahweh treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in My Name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares Yahweh. (Jer. 29:20-23)

There’s a third troublemaker as well—a man named Shemaiah [she-MAY-yah] who read the letter Jeremiah sent to Babylon, and then sent back a nastygram of his own. He didn’t write to Jeremiah, but to the high priest named Zephaniah. In it he said:

“Yahweh has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of Yahweh; you should put any maniac who acts like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons. So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? He has sent this message to us in Babylon: It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.’” (Jer. 29:26-28)

Shemaiah forgets that Yahweh sees all and knows all. When the good priest Zephaniah [zeff-uh-NIGH-yah] shows the prophet the letter that was written against him, Yahweh dictates a second message for Jeremiah to send to the exiles in Babylon.

“Send this message to all the exiles: ‘This is what Yahweh says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite [neh-HELL-a-mite]: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has persuaded you to trust in lies, this is what Yahweh says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good things I will do for My people, declares Yahweh, because he has preached rebellion against Me.’” (Jer. 29:31-32)

False prophets abound in the Church today and when no lightning bolts fall from the sky, they think they are getting away with using God’s Name and Authority for their own selfish gain. Yet passages like these remind us that Yahweh is always watching. He knows the names of every prophet who is preaching lies to His people and urging them to embrace rebellious attitudes in their hearts. False prophets are famous for downplaying the seriousness of sin and insisting that God is pleased with souls who are defying Him. Instead of urging people to follow the convictions of the Holy Spirit, they reassure them that all is well and that abundant blessings are just around the corner. False prophets are full of grand promises. They get people so busy chasing after false hopes and dreams of riches that no one stops to ask God what He really wants. False prophets distract people from focusing on the things that will really benefit their souls: submission to God, reverence, humility, repentance, and alignment with the Holy Spirit. Instead, they appeal to our carnal lusts and insatiable greed, offering us many methods for how we can milk blessings out of God. They reverse the order of authority: insisting that we can make God serve us instead of emphasizing that we exist to serve Him. False prophets are very crafty servants of Satan who always present themselves as dedicated servants of God. They will get what they deserve, and if you listen to them and reward them, you’ll end up sharing in their punishment. So stay far away from false prophets and teachers who are always dishing out pretty promises in the Name of Jesus. There are no unconditional promises of blessings. God always makes demands of us before He offers us anything, but false prophets don’t tell you what those demands are.

What about you? You might not consider yourself a prophet, but you can still lead people astray by always making blanket statements about how pleased God is with everyone. Realize that you’re stepping onto very dangerous ground when you start running your mouth about God’s pleasure and His desire to bless everyone. What starts out as an innocent desire to spread Christian cheer quickly turns into a tool of Satan when we are irresponsible with how we word things. Remember that God takes the use of His Name and Authority quite seriously. Make sure you’re checking with Him before you go passing out the group compliments.

ZEDEKIAH, King of Judah

Like Jehoiakim, Zedekiah will reign eleven years in Judah. He’ll be her last king, and he’s a wicked snake who refuses to accept what Yahweh is saying about Jerusalem being destroyed. No, Zedekiah is convinced that he can get Nebuchadnezzar off his back if he can just work up enough support from other nations. So the secret conversations begin, and soon he’s got five other kings agreeing to help him out. Now all he has to do is wait for just the right moment to launch his revolt…

PROPHETIC ACTION: Jeremiah’s Yoke

Yahweh knows all about Zedekiah’s secret plans. What the little twerp is forgetting is that this is Yahweh’s world, not Zedekiah’s, and Yahweh will do whatever He wants with His own creation. It’s time to give Jeremiah another little acting assignment. Having him wear a wooden yoke around his neck will be a handy way of demonstrating how Yahweh wants the nations to respond to the authority of Babylon. He wants them to submit to their conqueror, just as a good oxen submits to having a yoke put on him so that his owner can lead him about.

This is what Yahweh said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre [TIRE] and Sidon [SIGH-don] through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With My great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.” (Jer. 27:2-7) 

yoke

Well, this isn’t at all what Zedekiah and his allies want to hear. But if they refuse to submit to Nebuchadnezzar’s authority, this is what Yahweh has to say:

“If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares Yahweh, until I destroy it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’ They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land; the people will be able to work the land and stay in it, declares Yahweh.” (Jer. 27:8-11)

This message makes everyone mad. They’d much rather listen to the false prophets who are insisting that God will soon overthrow Babylon and restore prosperity to Judah. King Zedekiah is a big fan of the false prophets, and because of this Yahweh sends His yoke wearing prophet to go and get in the king’s face.

“Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live. Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which Yahweh has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you. ‘I have not sent them,’ declares Yahweh. ‘They are prophesying lies in My Name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.’” (Jer. 27:12-15)

During his first attack on Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar hauled off a bunch of the valuable items that were used in God’s Temple as well as many of the palace treasures. The false prophets keep saying those things will soon be returned. No, they won’t.

“This is what Yahweh says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from Yahweh’s Temple will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you. Do not listen to them. (Jer. 27:16-17)

Not only is there not going to be a quick recovery of these items, but Yahweh is going to bring Nebuchadnezzar back to do a complete clean out of everything that’s left.

“This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says about the things that are left in the house of Yahweh and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem: ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares Yahweh. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’” (Jer. 27:21-22)

Notice the language Yahweh is using. He says the items will be returned the day HE goes to get them—the day HE brings them back. Now if you read about these events in a secular history book, Yahweh wouldn’t even be mentioned. It would be “The king of Babylon took the items out of the Temple.” And then later it would be “When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they brought back the items that had been taken from the Temple.” We’re used to thinking of humans as making things happen down here. We say, “I went to the store to buy apples yesterday.” And yet God would say, “I took you to the store to buy apples yesterday.” We would say, “America is at war with China.” But God would say, “I stirred up America and China against each other.”

As we listen to God speak in the first person through the mouths of His prophets, we are introduced to a whole new way of thinking about events in the world. We realize that the way we’ve been used to thinking is all wrong. We aren’t the ones making things happen down here, God is. When we forget about His involvement, we end up with a warped view of life. Instead of saying, “I found a great website that is teaching me about the Bible,” we need to be saying, “God led me to this website and He’s using it to teach me a lot about the Bible.” Always God, not people, should be getting the credit in our minds. He is the One guiding us in life, He is the One teaching us and helping us. We don’t praise people, we praise God. We don’t care what channel He is using or who His current instrument is. Today it’s a particular website or pastor or teacher, tomorrow it’s something else. We don’t follow humans, we follow the Holy Spirit. We listen for His Voice and we hang out wherever He happens to be speaking. When He stops speaking there, we move on and follow Him to a new place.

By keeping our trust in God alone, we protect ourselves from being devastated when imperfect humans say something that isn’t true. When we are only depending on God for wisdom, the fallacies of humans can’t harm us. This is why you always need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for discernment whenever you hear or read something about God. And when you hear about something that’s happening in the world, remember that God is the One who is really at work.

PROPHET SHOWDOWN IN THE TEMPLE

The Temple is an excellent place for false prophets to strut about. Prophesying inside the Temple gives a fellow more clout—just as preaching behind a pulpit up on some well-lit stage gives false teachers an extra aura of authority today. But a pulpit is just a hunk of wood—it doesn’t guarantee anything about the character of the one using it. And preaching inside the Temple doesn’t make a prophet legitimate. Today if you see a man carrying around a big Bible, it doesn’t mean a darn thing. For all you know he could be a Satan worshiper or an atheist. One of the most foolish things we do is attach spiritual quality to physical objects and settings. You can’t judge the quality of a teacher by how he looks or how well he speaks. You have to test his words with the Holy Spirit and judge his teaching based on what comes out of his mouth. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t do this. They think the presence of a pulpit and the title of “prophet” guarantees truth. This is very foolish thinking, but it’s the kind of thinking that the fakers will gladly use against you.

Hananiah [han-nuh-NIGH-yuh] is a false prophet. Standing inside God’s Temple surrounded by a crowd of listeners, he gets in Jeremiah’s face and says:

“This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of Yahweh’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares Yahweh, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’” (Jer. 28:2-4)

What a liar! He hasn’t really heard anything from God. Now everyone looks at Jeremiah to see what he’ll say. Jeremiah knows better than to make a quick judgment. After all, God is a wild card who has a long history of suddenly changing His mind. Could it be that He’s decided not to follow through on some of the prophecies He’s spoken through Jeremiah? A smart prophet knows that he can’t rule out any possibilities. We all know how God turned the tables on Jonah and decided not to destroy Nineveh at the last minute. Until Jeremiah receives some clear word from Yahweh, he can’t be sure if Hananiah is faking or not. But so far, his message sounds pretty suspicious.

Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of Yahweh. He said, “Amen! May Yahweh do so! May Yahweh fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of Yahweh’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by Yahweh only if his prediction comes true.” (Jer. 28:5-9)

It’s just not God’s style to raise up prophets to pat everyone on the head. When people are already listening to God in their hearts, they don’t need outside messengers to explain His will to them. It’s only when people are refusing to listen to God that He brings prophets to get in their faces, and because they are rebelling, His messages are far from pleasant. This general pattern holds true for nations and mass amounts of people. When it comes to individuals, God has a long history of using prophets to deliver both good and bad messages. Sometimes He’ll send someone along to encourage us or explain why He is pleased with us. We find many examples of this in the Bible: Moses and Phinehas, Nathan and David, Huldah and Josiah. But when it comes to addressing larger groups of people, then we start seeing a very consistent pattern of the kind Jeremiah is describing: God’s messages are very negative.

Well, Hananiah isn’t going to just stand there while Jeremiah casts doubt on his words. Taking Jeremiah’s yoke away from him, Hananiah breaks the thing in front of everyone and says:

“This is what Yahweh says: ‘In the same way I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon off the neck of all the nations within two years.’” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went on his way. (Jer. 28:11)

No doubt Jeremiah doesn’t miss having a yoke around his neck, but Hananiah has crossed a line with Yahweh.

After the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah: “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what Yahweh says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but in its place you will get a yoke of iron. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will put an iron yoke on the necks of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I will even give him control over the wild animals.’”

Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen, Hananiah! Yahweh has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore this is what Yahweh says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against Yahweh.’” In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died. (Jer. 28:15-17)

LOOKING AHEAD

By now the news of Zedekiah’s treason has spread to Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar has sent word for the king to appear in his intimidating royal court for an interrogation session. Zedekiah has no choice but to comply, so he heads off with a group of escorts. Among the escorts is an officer named Seraiah who is carrying a message from Jeremiah to the Babylonians. Seraiah has been instructed by the prophet to read the message out loud to Nebuchadnezzar and his court. And after reading it, Seraiah is to say:

“Yahweh, You have said You will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever!” (Jer. 50:62)

Hm. That’s the sort of comment that could ensure a man never makes it out of Babylon alive. Will Seraiah have the courage to obey Jeremiah’s instructions?

UP NEXT: Know Your Bible Lesson 31: Ezekiel Begins

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