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!”
Don’t you love when God uses “real life” items to make his point? Jeremiah often tells vivid stories given by God to illustrate Judah’s destiny. But I’m not sure how many loincloths I’ve seen being used in my lifetime in areas of the world where I’ve been. It would have made a lot more sense to people in Jeremiah’s day. Linen belts would be intimate pieces of clothing, like underwear. Linen was also used to make the priests’ robes, so it could be seen as “holy.” But the way God uses this illustration is stunning!
The message for us is not “be careful, linen doesn’t hold up too well if it’s buried in the ground.” What was the message you heard? God said to Jeremiah, “This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.” Fun fact: linen gets stronger when wet, so when Jeremiah is told to not wash the garment, the linen is actually dry, its weakest state.
Obedience. As we await our Immanuel’s return, we should take a hint here from Joseph’s response on how to trust God’s wisdom, even when we might not want to. God chose Mary, but the package included Joseph, too. Joseph was in the line of David. That fact alone gave him priority over others, as Jesus’ earthly father would have to be a descendant of King David.
In my opinion, even more important, Mary’s husband-to-be was a “righteous” man. God wisely chose for Mary a man who could handle being the father of God’s only Son. We’ve been focusing on Mary’s response to the greatest honor imaginable. Joseph was also given an immense privilege. He could have easily just walked away. God knew he wouldn’t.
We are walking through some very dark days in the history of Israelite leadership. Each new king seems to be worse than the one before. How is that even possible?
Meanwhile, we must assume that because Judah’s king, Asa, is following God, everything is going well over there. The remnant of the Israelite people living in Judah and Benjamin are living lives that are more pleasing to God, honoring him with their obedience.
Let’s fight! That was Rehoboam’s go-to solution. He learned in our last reading that he had some competition as king. He pulled a good number of troops together. And then God spoke. Just like that.
God used a prophet to bring this message! “Do not fight against your relatives, the Israelites. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!” That was a bold and direct message. Nobody could infer anything different than what God intended, “Stop!”