Reading through the Bible together

Friday, May 23, 2014

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Good King Josiah was a breath of fresh air in the history of the Jewish Nation. He sought the Lord his God with all his heart. The Scripture records that through all the hundreds of years of the kingdom, there had never been a Passover like the one King Josiah held. He did everything within his power to draw near to God. Unfortunately, he was not successful in passing on his commitment to his sons or his people.

Jeremiah, who served as a prophet during Josiah’s reign is now speaking to Josiah’s sons. Just to make sure there is no doubt, God sends His prophet to the Royal Palace to speak to the King. Jeremiah is very direct. What a sight it must have been to see him in prophet’s garb, in the presence of the King delivering God’s message.

“Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (vs. 3).

The nature of the words show the depravity that pervaded the palace and the nation. Very simply, fix this and your throne will continue. Ignore these Words, and a disaster worse than you can imagine will come on you and your people; it will be unbelievable to all who pass by.

Then things get personal. Jeremiah addresses the three sons of Josiah who all served as king during these years of the kingdom. He knows each of the boys from early childhood. He has seen their development and their worst traits are now open before him. God is very displeased with their behavior.

The Lord can’t stand exploitation, particularly of the weak by the strong. He contrasts the young man Shallum with his father and compares their ways. Josiah defended the cause of the poor and needy, Shallum exploited them. Josiah governed with justice and righteousness, Shallum oppressed and perverted justice.

Jehoiakim fares no better. God shares His Word with him and the people in times of prosperity, but they will not hear and obey His voice. The young king is even despised by his people and princes and when he dies early, he is dragged out of the city and buried like a donkey, shamed and humiliated for his life of wickedness.

It gets worse. God through Jeremiah tells Coniah that if he were a signature ring on His right hand, he would take the ring off and throw it away!  He will give him into the hands of those whom he fears, those who seek to take his life! He and his mother will be cast out of the land and die! Why include his mother? Is this an indication of where the corrupting influence came from?

And then the cry that echoes through all time. “Earth, Earth, Earth, hear the Word of the Lord!” Today we are living in a time where there is little regard for the Word of God in our world, I pray for those who do not grasp what God is trying to tell them.
“Lord, I pray that You keep me wide awake and teachable, and help me to keep Your Words always in my heart.  Amen.”

Dan Houghton 
Hart Research Center