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Hard Decisions

How do you tackle hard decisions? I am one to avoid it until I cannot avoid it anymore. There is a word for it but we won't be tackling that today. Last week I was facing a confusing moment and I did what I always do, I cracked open my bible and asked God to speak to me. I found myself in the book of Jeremiah. The prophet Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. Most of the prophecies spoken through him are hard and difficult ones but his audience was harder and much more difficult.

Many times, he spoke messages from the Lord and the intended audience failed to listen and in turn they faced difficult times. The particular passages I want to tackle today are Jeremiah 37-39. In these chapters, we see the prophet of God prophesying against Judah and saying that they would be captured by the Babylonians and the city would be burned down.

King Zedekiah was the man charged with ruling the nation of Judah. In these days, Pharaoh the king of Egypt had formed an alliance with him and because of it the Babylonians had rescinded their attacks on Judah. In chapter 38, we see Jeremiah being imprisoned for his prophetic messages. No one liked what he was saying. It is just like us today. No one likes a hard message, one that comes after your idols or your pacified lifestyle. This is how the chapter began.

Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehukal[a] son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said, 2 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians[b] will live. They will escape with their lives; they will live.’ 3 And this is what the Lord says: ‘This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”

4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.” Jeremiah 38:1-4.

The nature of war is you fight till the last minute. Jeremiah was prophesying against the nature of war. He was letting the Judeans know, if they surrendered, they would live but if they stood to fight against the Babylonians they would lose. Verse four stood out to me though. These men say "this man is not seeking the GOOD of these people. How do you define good? Is it not interesting that they found fault in the word of the Lord and therefore challenged his goodness in warning them to surrender?

How do we define what is good in our lives? There has to be a standard that we measure the goodness of a thing, a person or experience. Jeremiah was merely a vessel for the Lord. If he strictly spoke as directed by God, then why did his audience consider his intentions to be for the ruin of Judah? These men who found fault with him and God's message threw him into the cistern of Malkijah. The cistern was basically a well and they intended on leaving him there to die.

However, "But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite,[c] an official[d] in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, 8 Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, 9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.” Jer 38:7-10.

After being saved we see King Zedekiah secretly calling Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord. This is where it gets interesting. He asks him what he should do as the King of Judah. This is what the Lord tells him.

“This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’”

19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have gone over to the Babylonians, for the Babylonians may hand me over to them and they will mistreat me.”

20 “They will not hand you over,” Jeremiah replied. “Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.

I found it so interesting that the Lord was asking the king of Judah to do that which was contrary to the situation. The fact remained that Babylon would attack Judah but instead of fighting against them, the Lord tells them to surrender. King Zedekiah was right to be afraid of surrendering. I think if someone asked me to surrender to a vicious enemy I would be afraid and I would genuinely question their intentions. However we should remember that these were not Jeremiah's words of wisdom. He was merely a prophet being used by God. These were instructions from God.

In an act of mercy, He was providing a way to save their lives. Jeremiah says to him “Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared." I have come to learn that obedience to God comes with provision. He will keep His word to you as long as you obey His own. Many of the instructions given to us by God are contradictory to our feelings, people's opinions of us and many times they will cost us.

Two years after these instructions, Babylon attacked Judah and King Zedekiah attempted to flee and resist. He did not surrender and in turn, he was taken as captive and his wives, his elders and his sons were killed. His eyes were gouged out and he suffered under the authority of Babylon. Had he listened, his fate would be different. The same goes for us. The Lord is truly all-knowing, He is indeed Alpha-Omega. He is indeed good in all His ways and He indeed cannot sin against us. If he is calling you to do a specific thing, obedience to that word as hard as it may be is the best decision you can make.

The hard decision that I was facing became lighter once I read these passages. I am encouraged by the fact that I do not have to navigate life blindly and honestly neither do you.

1 kommentar

08 juni 2023

Remember this quote: Many of the instructions given to us by God are contradictory to our feelings, people's opinions of us and many times they will cost us. Michelle Nyabera.


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