The Obstinate

Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim.
But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the LORD which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. Jer 37:1, 2

One of the more compelling reasons to trust in the veracity of the Bible is the amazing fact that this book which the people of Israel hold so dear contains so abundantly stories that put their people in the most despicable light. I find that astounding. Add to that observation the adage that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and I’m astounded that the Jews would care for the book at all. I know my own family would just as soon forget all the ugly things I’ve inflicted on them during my formative years. After I wrote a story about my courtmartial while I was stationed in the Army in Ft. Bliss, Texas, my Dad asked me why I would want to proclaim that to the public, it brought back so many bad memories. I know how he feels, and wonder why the Jews wouldn’t feel the same way.

In Jeremiah chapter 37 we have one more instance of the spiritual failing of the leadership of eh Kingdom of Judah. But not just the leadership, but the king, his servants, and indeed, the people of the land shared in the spiritual poverty! And this in spite of the continuous proclamation of their Lord’s words, spoken as a carrot and a stick – how He’d enrich and nourish them if they obeyed, and how He’s utterly decimate them if they continued in their obstinacy and rebellion. It makes you wonder what they are using for brains – the choice seems utterly obvious.

But now that I think about it I seem to recall a time when I did pretty much the same thing. There were people who tried to tell me that the path I was on was leading to destruction and failure. Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now – I would have avoided so much painful heartbreak and struggle.

But that’s the way it is for those who have avoided the kind of relationship with God that He’s meant for us to have. It brings to mind the lesson of Sunday School that so many children learn, the first question of catechism, “What is our purpose in life,” the answer, “to love God and enjoy Him forever.” (See the WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM, Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.) Most of us have heard that with our ears but it doesn’t go any further. In a sense we’ve all been like the people in the verse above. And still there are those continually speaking the word of the Lord, in the off chance that an individual here and there will take it to heart, and receive that indescribable gift. The seemingly insurmountable odds Jeremiah faced didn’t become an obstacle preventing him from speaking. The Lord promised to him a strength and power far beyond his own capability. Like the power available to us as we surrender to the Word of God and His Spirit.

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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