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The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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AM Bible Study Archives
"Hard Words to a Fickle King"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 12, 2005
I. PROPHECY #1: ZEDEKIAH WARNED THAT THE CITY WOULD BE TAKEN (vv. 1-7)
A. The context of this first prophecy was the siege of Babylon. Babylon
had taken all but three fortified cities of Judah (v. 7); but as they had
surrounded Jerusalem, they became threatened by the armies of Pharaoh and
temporarily withdrew the siege (37:1-5).
B. At the time of the withdrawal, God spoke through Jeremiah and let
Zedekiah know that the Babylonians would return and the city would still be
taken captive (37:6-10). It was this prophetic word - probably given just
prior to the temporary Babylonian withdrawal - that was being asserted to
Zedekiah (vv. 1-3). Though the king of Babylon would drawn back, Zedekiah
would still be made to stand before him face to face (2 Kings 25:5-7).
C. Yet, in the midst of this warning, God gives Zedekiah this promise. He
would not die by the sword, but die in peace in Babylon. He would be
mourned by his people in ceremony like kings before him had been mourned
(such as Asa in 2 Chron. 16:13-14, but unlike Jehoram in 2 Chron. 21:19-20).
D. The mention of the timing of this prophecy - apparently "when the king of
Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that
were left" (vv. 6-7) - is meant to set the context for the next prophetic word
to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was apparently moved by this promise - but, sadly, not
moved to genuine repentance.
II. PROPHECY #2: ZEDEKIAH JUDGED FOR TURNING BACK ON HIS PROMISE (vv.
A. Perhaps the warning from Jeremiah had some effect on Zedekiah, and moved
him to make some resolves in the hopes that God would still show favor to
him. He made a covenant with the people of Jerusalem who still remained:
that they should set free all from among the Hebrew people who had been made
slaves - probably as a result of indebtedness (vv. 8-10).
1. This was a matter of simply keeping the command of God's law - which had
apparently been neglected. The law of God had commanded that all people
from among their own countrymen would be released from their debts every
seven years (Deut. 15:1-6; 12-18). This command included a promise of
blessing on the nation if it was obeyed.
2. All of the ruling class entered into this covenant that
Zedekiah commanded. They even solemnized the act by a ceremonial 'cutting'
of a calf in two and passing between the parts (vv. 18-19). This was a way
of pledging themselves to this covenant that was first seen in Genesis
15:8-17). It was a way of saying that, if they should break this covenant,
may they be slain and their blood poured out as this calf's.
3. This may have even been motivated out of a desire to have enough "free
people" to be available to put up some kind of defense against the
B. But it may have been that, after they saw that the Babylonians had
withdrawn, that they "changed their minds", and made the slaves return to
their state of slavery (v. 11). This moved God, through Jeremiah, to give
this second word of prophecy (vv. 12-22):
1. He reminded the people of Judah of the covenant He had made with them
after He had delivered them out of slavery - a covenant that they had failed
to keep (vv. 13-14).
2. They had recently obeyed; but then they turned around and "profaned"
God's name by bringing back the slaves (vv. 15-16).
3. Therefore, God proclaims liberty to them - that is, liberty to be given
over to the sword, pestilence and famine; and to captivity to Babylon (vv.
* * * * * * * * * *
This is a very vivid illustration of Hebrews 10:26-31. May our repentance