If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Judges 8, Acts 12, Jeremiah 21, Mark 7. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Jeremiah 21.
Zedekiah was the last earthly king to rule over God’s people before Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. Prior to Zedekiah becoming king, however, Judah had been under Babylonian rule in one way or another for years. They had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon under king Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1a-b), but then rebelled. Their rebellion was crushed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:2). Later, the Babylonians carried off Israel’s king into exile. Finally, they laid siege to Jerusalem itself and took full control of the promised land. As Zedekiah saw the storm clouds gathering, he asked Jeremiah to pray and ask God for a miracle to defeat the Babylonians here in Jeremiah 21:1-2. Jeremiah responded by telling Zedekiah that Babylon would succeed because God himself was fighting against Israel (vv. 5-7). In verses 8-9 Jeremiah explained how God’s people could save their lives—by surrendering. Finally in the end of this chapter, Jeremiah prophesied against the kings in verses 11-14. But notice that, although God had firmly decided to give Jerusalem to the Babylonians, he still allowed a little hope if his people would repent. Verse 12 calls on the leaders to dispense true justice or experience God’s wrath. This indicates that they could have turned from practicing this (and other) sins, turned to God in repentance, and God would have forgiven them.
This is important to keep in mind when we read passages about God’s judgment. The prophesies of judgement are always designed to bring about repentance. God’s people are told of the future so that they can return to obedience in the present. This passage implies that defeat could have been avoided if the leaders had led the people back to worship and obedience of God. May the Lord help us to understand that the threats of judgment in the scripture—no matter how severe and bleak—always contain either an implied, but more often a direct—call to repentance to avoid the judgment of God. When we find ourselves trapped in sin, remember that God is waiting to forgive and restore us if we turn again to him in repentant faith.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.