Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20050817.htm
JEREMIAH: STAYING UPRIGHT AMIDST EVIL PRESSURES
Part X: Events Just Before Jerusalem's Fall
D. Learning To Stay Faithful To God's Calling When Horrendously Slandered
Lesson: Though slandered and thus beaten and imprisoned for a long time in a potentially lethal prison, Jeremiah stayed true to his calling, so God equipped him to finish his mission, Jer. 1:17-19.
- The childhood saying: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me" does not always ring true; great damage can be done to a party due to the slanderous words of vicious people.
- Jeremiah faced slander that was believed by others and led to a life-threatening crisis for him; yet, he stayed faithful to his calling, and God blessed him; he acts as a great example for us in such a trial:
- Learning To Stay Faithful To God's Calling When Horrendously Slandered, Jeremiah 37:1-21.
- When Zedekiah began to rule, Jeremiah was left living under a king who was two-faced, one who did not heed God nor lead his subjects to do so, but who yet asked Jeremiah to pray for God's help, Jer. 37:1-2, 3.
- Exposure to such a two-faced leader left Jeremiah vulnerable to dreadful, destructive slander (37:4-15):
- After the Babylonians had begun their first siege of Jerusalem, the Egyptians started to move into the land to aid Judah, causing the Babylonians to withdraw their initial siege effort, Jer. 37:5 with 37:3.
- Yet, God had Jeremiah warn Jerusalem against overconfidence just because the Babylonians had withdrawn: the Egyptians would go home and the Babylonians would return to destroy the city, 37:6-8.
- God warned the people through Jeremiah that even if they were to defeat the Babylonians so decidedly that the enemy was left with only wounded men, they would still destroy Jerusalem, Jeremiah 37:9-10!
- Well, after he had made this prediction and the Babylonians had temporarily withdrawn their siege, Jeremiah used the temporary peace of the countryside to try to go into his tribal territory of Benjamin to make a business transaction there re: some property, Jer. 37:11-12. [The KJV should read more like the NIV does at verse 12 (as follows): "Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there."] ( Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1182)
- As he tried to leave, Jeremiah was seized at the Gate of Benjamin by the sentry, Irijah who charged him of the capital offense of traitorously deserting to Babylon, Jer. 37:13. The sentry had heard Jeremiah warn that the Babylonians would return to destroy Jerusalem, and he also noted Jeremiah was about to use the north gate to go in the direction the Babylonians had left; he thus concluded Jeremiah secretly left to join the Babylonians! (The MacMillan Bible Atlas, 1968 ed., p. 108 with Jeremiah 1:14)
- Jeremiah denied Irijah's charge, but his denial went unheeded; he was brought to the city's princes who became infuriated with Jeremiah and beat and imprisoned him in the dungeons, Jer. 37:14-15 (16).
- Nevertheless, Jeremiah remained true to his divine calling, so God aided him in accord with His promise:
- After Jeremiah had been in prison for a long time, the two-faced Zedekiah secretly took him from that prison to his palace to ask if Jeremiah had any recent word for him from the Lord, Jeremiah 37:16-17a!
- This would have humanly pressured Jeremiah to start to declare destruction for Babylon: from man's view, doing so would remove the reason for his imprisonment; yet, Jeremiah stayed true to God's call, telling Zedekiah the Lord would deliver him over to the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 37:17b!
- Jeremiah then asked Zedekiah what wrong he had done to deserve his mistreatment; after all, the prophets that predicted Babylon would never come had been proved wrong where Jeremiah had thus been proved right, Jer. 37:18-19! [Since Jeremiah was still saying the Babylonians would conquer Jerusalem after all his mistreatment for it, the slander against him was also shown to be false!]
- Jeremiah then asked Zedekiah not to send him back to the dungeon lest he die due to its unhealthy conditions, Jeremiah 37:20. In accord with His promise to help Jeremiah for staying faithful to his calling in Jeremiah 1:19b, God led Zedekiah to put Jeremiah in the protective custody of the guard and to see that he was given a daily ration of bread until all the bread in the city was gone, Jeremiah 37:21.
Application: When we face evil destructive slander, GOD calls us to STAY FAITHFUL to HIS will and HE will see that all the needs we have to COMPLETE His mission for us in life WILL be MET!