There are many promises in the Bible, but this is one God made particularly for David. God knew what David needed to hear and used Nathan as his messenger. David was starting to feel guilty that he was living in such a beautiful palace while the Ark, the presence of God lived in a tent. I can understand David’s perspective wanting to honor God.
Judging from the message God gave Nathan, the time for such a grand home had not yet come. God promised David that one of his ancestors would be the one to build this place of honor, the temple. God said, “He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever.” There is a promise within a promise!
Jerusalem falls. Jeremiah has been telling his audience to return to God or else. The “or else” has arrived. What struck me right away was the two-year attack before the fall. Granted, warfare would have looked a lot different back then than it does now. But still, two years of a siege would still mean fear, destruction, homelessness, hunger, death. Not a pretty sight!
I don’t want to spend much time thinking about what happened to Zedekiah. It’s frightening to see such brutality take place between human beings, even if they are nasty kings who ignored and rebelled against God. Zedekiah’s punishment was not escapable according to Jeremiah’s prior prophecies. My takeaway is to see God’s seriousness. When he says something, it will happen. That’s an understanding Zedekiah clearly did not have. He could have prevented the whole slaughter. Do you feel at all sorry for Zedekiah?
We are told in this reading how long Jeremiah will remain a prisoner. No more wondering if there will be a jail break! When Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign ends with Babylon conquering Jerusalem, Jeremiah will be free for a while. We know the circumstances that prompt Jeremiah’s freedom, but we don’t know how far into the king’s reign we are in this moment.
Do you think Jeremiah was feeling any hope at this special summons from the king? Jeremiah was certainly blunt and to the point when the king demanded the truth. “Jeremiah said, ‘If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.’” Did Jeremiah’s boldness surprise you in how he addressed the king?
Rise and fall or is it fall and rise, the one that ends on a happier note with hope! Today’s reading covers the gamut in terms of what’s happening to the people of Israel. As I’m writing this, it’s Thanksgiving in the United States once again. I could have spent time reflecting only on the prediction of the fall, but on a day of giving thanks, it seemed appropriate to focus on both. Thankfully the Spirit prompted me accordingly!
How unbelievable and frightening it must have seemed to the people to hear Jeremiah’s words. That is assuming they were actually listening to the words of the LORD being spoken by Jeremiah. Their beloved Jerusalem was going to fall.
The king of Judah didn’t follow God’s advice, did he? If he did, Jerusalem would look a lot different today based on God’s promise here. “If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem.” The “here in Jerusalem” is what sets this apart from God’s promise to King David all those years ago.
For 300+ years, the people believed the royal house of David was their “special protection.” In 2 Samuel 7:16, God promises David, “Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.” Jesus sits on this throne now as the one who fulfills this promise. Remember the angel’s words to Mary about her son, Jesus, in Luke 2:31-33. “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”