Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 37-38:28; 1 Timothy 6:1-21; Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 25:28
None of the people left in Judah, including government officials, were listening to anything God was trying to tell them (Jeremiah 37:2). This is, of course, precisely the reason they were in the mess they were in. For centuries God had been trying to get them to follow Him. But they refused. Now things were desperate. God was still trying to get their attention but they continued to ignore Him.
If the people would have just read their Bibles they would have seen that the very things God had said would happen were now happening. God doesn’t tell us bad things will happen because He wants to scare us or because He enjoys hurting us. He tells us these things will happen so we can change our behavior and avoid them. Everything God says and does is for our benefit.
Notice that right up until the end God was still offering His people helpful advice. God will never completely abandon anyone. He may give us over to what we think we want – life without Him. But as long as our hearts are beating God will keep trying to save us from such a bad decision.
The only way for the Jews to survive was to surrender to the Babylonians. Trying to hold onto their lives meant death. Surrendering meant life (Jeremiah 38:2). The same is true when it comes to our spiritual lives. We can cling to our own foolish pride and live according to our own rules. God will let us do that. But doing so means eternity separated from Him in hell.
However, surrendering our lives to Him will result in eternal life in heaven. God wants us to surrender not to demean us but to exalt us. Only by surrendering our lives can we truly live.
In 2005 Dr. Eilat Mazar, a Jewish archaeologist, discovered shards of pottery inscribed with two of the names of the man mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1. The inscriptions mentioned Gedaliah, son of Pahsur and Jehucal, son of Shelemiah and were dated to the the time when Jeremiah wrote these passages. The more we dig out of the ground the more we confirm that the Bible is 100% accurate.
God’s words, delivered through Jeremiah, were meant to save people. The people, however, misunderstood and were discouraged by them (Jeremiah 38:4). This is a common tactic of Satan that he continues to use today. He uses our pride to reject God’s good intentions, convincing us that God’s way is insulting, offensive, and will lead to defeat and unhappiness.
This is the same way people react to God’s word today. People think following the God of the Bible is restrictive. So they reject it in favor of “freedom”. Yet they become slaves to their own gods of money, career, drugs, or alcohol. Everyone has a god. But the only true God does not enslave us. He sets us free (John 8:32, Galatians 5:1, et. al)
Notice that Zedekiah was afraid to surrender (Jeremiah 38:19). Zedekiah as being very honest here. We think we know what is best for us so it can be scary to give up what we think we know to be true. This is an understandable human reaction. But God is not out to harm us. He is out to save us. Nothing we are doing is working. If we swallow our pride we can admit that. Or we can keep marching toward our own individual and collective destruction.
The real definition of wealth is living a godly life and being content in doing so (1 Timothy 6:6). We can’t take anything from this earth with us when we die so there is no need to purse earthly wealth. All we really need are the basics (1 Timothy 6:8). Chasing after money is a trap we fall into when we let ourselves be lead by foolish desires (1 Timothy 6:9).
I’ve fallen into this trap myself as I’ve previously mentioned. I wasted much of my life trying to create security through wealth only to fail. This season of my life damaged my relationship with God. My trust should not be in financial security but in God (1 Timothy 6:17). This is a lesson I’m still learning.
Rather than collecting money we should use our money to do good (1 Timothy 6:18). There is nothing wrong with being wealthy – God has blessed many of His children with wealth (e.g. Abraham and David). But if we are so blessed we should share what we have been given and not use that money not solely for our own comfort.
God calls His children to avoid having discussions with people who don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to Him (1 Timothy 6:20). Having a conversation with someone who is genuinely seeking answers is perfectly fine. But don’t get caught up with someone who simply wants to argue.
I get emails and tweets all the time about this blog, a few of which are from people who are truly seeking God. But the vast majority (I’d say over 95%) are from people who simply want to argue. One way to identify such people is by their name calling. As soon as they start calling me names, I know they aren’t interested in an exchange of ideas – they only want to promote themselves. Have nothing to do with such people.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.