You Choose How this Movie Ends

The closing chapter of Jeremiah, chapter 52 tells of when the young King Zedekiah is taken captive. Jeremiah spent his ministry prophesying to the leaders of the people of God about what God would do a result of the nation of Israel's disobedience. And he told them how God said He was going to use Babylon as his battle axe (Jeremiah 51:20).

Well, Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And on January 15, during the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They kept the city under siege for two full years. Almost two and half years later, on July 18, the famine in the city was too severe. Zedekiah and his soldiers made a plan to escape one night through the gate between the two walls behind the king's gardens. They tried it.

But the Babylonians chased after them and caught King Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. Coincidentally, by the point they caught up with Zedekiah, all of his men had abandoned him. Jeremiah 52:9 says they brought him to the king of Babylon at Riblah and he was sentenced. What was his sentence? The king of Babylon made him watch as all his sons were killed; they also killed all the other leaders of Judah. Then they gouged out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon where he remained in prison the rest of his life.

Whew! Babylon is not your friend. How cruel is that?! To kill your sons before your very eyes, and then gouge out your eyes so that's the last memory you have. Babylon decided to teach Zedekiah a lesson: there's a price to be paid for rebellion. And you may wish it was death. But it wasn't. The image of your sons dying will be your most powerful and haunting memory. And you will live, so it will replay over and over again. What cruelty! Mind you, Zedekiah was a young king. He was 21 when he became king and he reigned eleven years. So Zedekiah was himself a young man when his sons were killed. That means he had much life left to think about what his disregard of Jeremiah's advice cost him.

If you go back to Jeremiah 38 you'll say with me, This just didn't have to be! It didn't have to end this way. Read verses 14 to 28 and you'll see that Jeremiah told Zedekiah what to do. This exile was ordained by God as their discipline for breaking the covenant. Jeremiah told Zedekiah, "The LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: If you surrender to Babylon, you and your familiy will live, and the city will not be burned. But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground" (Jeremiah 38:18).

I wonder why Zedekiah even called Jeremiah to the palace that day (Jeremiah 38:14)? Jeremiah didn't want to talk with Zedekiah for two reasons: (1.) He fear that Zedekiah would kill him for telling him the truth and (2.) He predicted that even if he told Zedekiah the truth, he wouldn't listen to it anyway. Jeremiah was partially right. Zedekiah promised to not kill him. But it's interesting that he didn't agree to listen to the truth that Jeremiah would tell him. Is it because he figured that he could get the message from the LORD and then try to figure a way around it? Did Zedekiah think he was fighting a human king so if he could get the inside story, get the plans before they were executed, that he could counteract those plans some way? I'm not so sure.

I know this: the prophecies of the LORD are true. They will come to pass just as He has said. I know some of us are waiting until we see certain events begin to take shape -- the Sunday blue laws re-enforced, money being thrown into the streets, church doors being locked -- and THEN we'll get right with God. May Zedekiah be a lesson to us that our only security lies in obeying the truths of God's word. The Word of the Lord will stand forever.


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