Devotional Reading: Psalm 33:1-5
Lesson Scripture: Jeremiah 23: 1-6; 33: 14-18
Lesson Aims: Understand the responsibility of leadership; recognize that God’s judgment continues; and rejoice that God sent Messiah to restore.
Jeremiah prophesied to Judah during the reigns of Josiah (640-609 BC), Jehoahaz (609), Jehoiakim (609-598), Jehoiachen (598-597) and Zedekiah (597-586). Like Israel, Judah was headed for God’s judgment. Josiah was the last “good king” who died in battle near Migiddo.
After him, Judah’s government was very unstable and corrupt. Jeremiah’s call came during the latter half of Josiah’s tenure. His twofold prophesy was to warn the southern kingdom to repent and then to encourage them once Babylon captured them. God gave him a glimpse of Judah’s dreadful future. Because of this, he agonized over their fallen condition. His open expression of grief made his writings the most emotional of the Old Testament.
He was dubbed the “weeping prophet.” Jeremiah endured rejection, hatred, threats on his life, and apathy. God promised him in 1:19 “They (leaders)will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” By worldly standards Jeremiah wasn’t successful; however, he did what God told him to do.
God’s judgment upon Judah is inevitable (because of poor leadership) by the time we get to chapter 22. Jeremiah informs King Zedekiah to be subject to Babylon’s rule. See II Kings 24: 18-25 and II Chronicles 36:11-23. The king comes very close to killing Jeremiah. The first deportation occurs in 605 BC. Ezekiel, one of the captives, speaks for the Lord in Babylon. Jeremiah condemns the leadership of Judah – both political (the king) and spiritual (the priests and false prophets) – for scattering and destroying God’s People.
This is done in several ways. First, the leadership increases their wealth at the expense of the poor. Then justice becomes a non-factor as those who oppose the selfish rulers are locked up or killed. This self-centeredness disregards their responsibility for the masses. God will punish them for their abuse of power by allowing Judah to be swept away by Babylon and Zion (Jerusalem) left in waste. But God will gather His scattered flock (Israel and Judah) Himself.
They will be brought to a pasture where they will experience security and justice. God will raise up a descendant of David who will be like no other – wise, just and right! His name is “The Lord Our Righteousness.” In the days ahead, God will fulfill Hispromise to save and restore His People.
Based on events of the past few weeks, believers need to be reminded that God created all humanity. Just because thoughts and ideas are different doesn’t make anyone less of a person and precious to God! Apostasy is evident in every corner of the world. Leaders, political and spiritual, are practicing greed, corruption and injustice to benefit themselves, caring nothing for the masses. God is not happy with any of it!
Sooner or later, His judgment will come – that’s a fact. This however doesn’t let the masses off the hook. They are responsible for staying in right relationship with God. Today we have the Word and can study it. There is no excuse. We must endure like Jeremiah, for on that great day each of us must give an account for one’s actions.
Thank God for we can’t do right, speak right and think right without Messiah. He fulfilled His promise to humanity. Amen, Amen!