Sometimes I stop and reflect on how my life was without God. I think I was protected by my mother’s prayers for me. But the people of Israel and Judah weren’t so fortunate. Their ancestors had turned their back on God. They did not have divine protection like I did. I may not have been doing the same things that the Israelites were doing, but I was still doing wrong, and the potential for disaster was still there. But God!
Sure, they heard of God, sure they heard the stories, but, that was all that they were to them, stories. I know a couple of girls from a different religion that think the Bible is like a history book, it doesn’t apply to them, only to the people of that day. How sad! The scriptures say the Bible is alive and active, sharper than any two- edged sword. Does that sound like a history book?? I can attest that the spirit lives in the word, and it is living and breathing life into anyone who will give it a chance.
King Zedekiah must have heard the stories of how God protected his people in battle, so he thought ‘why not try?’ But God sees the motives behind the words and replied through Jeremiah:
This is the God of Israel’s message to you: You can say goodbye to your army, watch morale and weapons flushed down the drain. I’m going to personally lead the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, against whom you’re fighting so hard, right into the city itself. I’m joining their side and fighting against you, fighting all-out, holding nothing back. (Jeremiah 21:4-5 The Message)
Listen carefully, I’m giving you a choice: life or death. Whoever stays in the city will die—either in battle or by starvation or disease. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who have surrounded the city will live. You’ll lose everything—but not your life. I’m determined to see this city destroyed. I’m that angry with this place! God’s decree. I’m going to give it to the king of Babylon, and he’s going to burn it to the ground. (Jeremiah 21:8-10 The Message)
Sometimes I get arrogant, and think I am in control and succeeding. I am sure that the king probably thought that too. I’m an Israelite! (I am a Christian!) God is for me and not against me. But God’s favor depends on my heart and my actions, it is not automatic. Sometimes it is grace, but not always. There is a limit on when, how much, and how often.
Sometimes when God is for me, it may look like He is against me. He told the people if you want to live, then you have to lose everything and let the Chaldeans capture you.
The exiles from here that I’ve sent off to the land of the Babylonians are like the good figs, and I’ll make sure they get good treatment. I’ll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I’ll bring them back to this land. I’ll build them up, not tear them down. I’ll plant them, not uproot them. (Jeremiah 24:4-7 The Message)
That is what Jesus says too. Give up your life and follow me. If I let Jesus capture me, I am sure the same applies–He’ll keep His eye on me, He’ll build me up and plant me in fertile ground. But I have my part to do. I need to be sure I don’t lead any people away from God because of my actions or my words. I need to make sure I don’t make stuff up so it sounds good, or say ‘everything will turn out good,’ when I do not know if it will or not.
“Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as “How do we understand God in this?” But don’t go around pretending to know it all, saying God told me this…God told me that…I don’t want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my message gets twisted, the Message of the Living God-Of-The-Angel-Armies. (Jeremiah 23:35-36 MSG)
Quit the “God told me this…God told me that…kind of talk. (Jeremiah 23:38 MSG)
O land, land, land, listen to God’s Message! (Jeremiah 22:29 MSG)
God is definitely for me, but I have to be for Him too! That is the most important part!
“Am I not a God near at hand” -God’s Decree (says the Lord)— “and not a God far off? Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can’t see him?” God’s Decree. “Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 23: 23-24 MSG)
It is God’s desire to be alive and active in my life. With Him, I can do anything, without Him, I struggle through each day, whether I realize it or not. I am only my best when I am walking hand in hand with my God. And God is delighted to be near to those who desire to live in His promises to His people.
Another one of His promises:
“Time’s coming”—God’s Decree—“When I’ll establish a truly righteous David-Branch, A ruler who knows how to rule justly, He’ll make sure of justice and keep people united. In His time Judah will be secure again and Israel will live in safety. This is the name they’ll give Him: ‘God-Who-Puts-Everything-Right.’ (The Lord is our Righteousness) (Jeremiah 23:5-6 MSG)
Doesn’t that sound like heaven? I sure would like to see unity, justice and safety where I live.
Father God, I praise your name. I thank You for Your word that teaches me how to live, and how not to live. If I abide in You, You will help me through this world each step of the way. You are faithful and true. I can trust You and Your word to carry me into eternity. You are so worthy of all praise and honor! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!