Jeremiah’s warning is very specific in today’s reading. His prophetic words speak loudest to the three kings involved. But what powerful news to the people who will witness their leadership being taken down exactly as Jeremiah’s words from God predict!
If you haven’t trekked your way through Judah’s history in 1st and 2nd Kings, then these names may be a bit unfamiliar. Suffice it to say the reign of these kings did not last for long periods, and there wasn’t a lot of God honoring behavior going on. King Josiah was the last king to seek the truth of God’s wisdom while trying to reform the people.
Here’s a quick summary. Jehoahaz, the youngest son of Josiah, will survive but be taken away into exile in Egypt after reigning only three months. Jehoiakim, the second son of Josiah, takes over after Jehoahaz departs and will reign for eleven years. Finally, Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim will become king after his father and reign for three months. He will be taken away to Babylon. Because Jehoiachin was childless, his uncle, Zedekiah took over as the final king of Judah. Curious that his fate was not mentioned here.
Do you think hearing these words even frightened these kings? Were they so filled with evil and selfish desires that they totally ignored Jeremiah’s warning? Could it be they were in denial that anything bad could happen to them? Why do you think these kings continued down their evil paths despite the warnings?
Josiah, their predecessor, on the other hand, is noted to have been blessed. Why? Because “he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.” What can you do with that message? God still had hope for Josiah’s wayward sons. “Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.”
What do you see God doing here? Anytime we read the Bible, we should always be looking for God and how he is moving. We see God’s awareness of what was happening in the lives of his people. God can see through the hard exterior of our hearts to find what motivates us. For these kings, it was selfishness, lavish living, and hunger for power. God was not afraid to call them out and punish them for their willful disobedience.
I love knowing that God gets me. I am far from perfect, but unlike these kings, I live my life to please God and seek his direction for my life. When I read about what God has done to get our attention, it’s clear to me he wants to be in relationship with us. God wants to be my friend. God wants to be known. He wants to bless us.
Let’s pray … Lord, you are so good, and your patience with us is astounding. Knowing how many chances you gave your people to come around and respect and obey you gives me the assurance of your fairness and great love for me. Help me to be obedient to you and desirous of a relationship that honors you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.