There were four kings in Judah after the death of Josiah. Two of these reigned for a very short period of time. The others, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, were both sons of Josiah. During their years the great powers in this region of the world were the Egyptians and the Babylonians, and they were each involved in defining who would reign in Judah.
Zedekiah was the final king of Judah before the destruction of Jerusalem. For some time the prophet Jeremiah had been warning about the inevitable fate of the city at the hands of the Babylonians. There were also many false prophets who gave a different message of peace than that of Jeremiah, but by the time of this account, Jeremiah had been proven right, though the city had not yet been destroyed.
Despite the fact that Jeremiah’s word was truly from God and recent events should have caused the prophet to receive everyone’s respect, he was still treated as an unpatriotic enemy of the state. Yet Zedekiah sent a messenger to him asking that he pray to the Lord.
About that time the Babylonians withdrew somewhat from their position near Jerusalem because of the movements of the Egyptian army. Despite this brief change of events, the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah remained consistent. The Babylonians would come back, they would capture the city, and burn it with fire.
According to the Lord Himself, even if the men of Judah were able to defeat the Babylonian forces and all that remained of that foreign power were wounded men recovering in their tents, still the city of Jerusalem would be captured and burned. The coming victory of the Babylonians had never been about the strength of men. It was the judgment of God.
During the brief withdrawal of Babylonian forces from the immediate vicinity, Jeremiah began the short journey to the land of Benjamin. Knowing of Jeremiah’s uncompromising message of a coming Babylonian conquest, one of the sentries seized the prophet, claiming that he was deserting to the enemy. Jeremiah flatly denied this, but the officials did not believe him. They placed him in a makeshift prison in the home of one of the leaders.
Once again, King Zedekiah desired a secret conference with the prophet. He continued to show interest in the oracles of God that might come through Jeremiah. The message had not changed. “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.”
Six centuries later, important men like Herod and Pilate had an interest in Jesus of Nazareth. They did not come to Him as the Son of God and the long awaited Messiah King. Jesus had almost nothing to say to important men like them, but to the meek and lowly who would receive Him, the Lord of Glory spoke a true Word of life. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, will we utterly ignore Your warnings to Your church? You have told us to repent, lest You remove Your lampstand from among us. Would we put You to the test? Lying messengers assure us that everything is all right, though Your church would be dedicated to false teaching and wicked living. We have spoken against loyal ministers of Your Word, treating them as traitors. We willfully forget that false prophets who we once eagerly listened to have been proven wrong through events that we have seen with our own eyes. Save Your church, O Lord! Fill us with a true and right Spirit we pray. We need Your power and love.