Devotion for June 18
It is interesting how year after year we hear reports from the retail industry that the Bible is still at the top of the New York Times best seller list. The reason I find that interesting is because culture continues to move away from what Scripture teaches about God and what He desires/demands of man. Virtually every day there is a new, more staggering example of humanity’s rejection of God’s authority in the name of human autonomy. Meanwhile, the word of God presents us with countless examples of how this lifestyle will not only bring God’s judgment, but, more importantly, will not bring about the happiness that sinful humanity is longing for.
Fortunately, there is a thread of hope weaved throughout the pages of Holy Scripture, and that thread really comes to light in God’s instruction to Jeremiah found in 36:2-3. Through the truths presented in Scripture, God intends for humanity to not only be made aware of their sins, but to repent of their sins. He also reveals His heart of grace and forgiveness as He promises that He will not leave humanity in sin, but will provide forgiveness and restoration. Friends, these marvelous truths should not only encourage our life in Christ, but they should also compel us to be more intentional about sharing the Word of God with others. We really do have the Good News, and much like Jeremiah we have been commissioned to go and tell!
Jeremiah 34–36 (CSB)
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, his whole army, all the kingdoms of the lands under his control, and all other peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding cities: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go, speak to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it. 3 As for you, you will not escape from him but are certain to be captured and handed over to him. You will meet the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak face to face; you will go to Babylon. 4 “ ‘Yet hear the Lord’s word, King Zedekiah of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; 5 you will die peacefully. There will be a burning ceremony for you just like the burning ceremonies for your ancestors, the kings of old who came before you. “Oh, master!” will be the lament for you, for I have spoken this word. This is the Lord’s declaration.’ ” 6 So the prophet Jeremiah related all these words to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem 7 while the king of Babylon’s army was attacking Jerusalem and all of Judah’s remaining cities—that is, Lachish and Azekah, for they were the only ones left of Judah’s fortified cities. 8 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom to them. 9 As a result, each was to let his male and female Hebrew slaves go free, and no one was to enslave his fellow Judean. 10 All the officials and people who entered into covenant to let their male and female slaves go free—in order not to enslave them any longer—obeyed and let them go free. 11 Afterward, however, they changed their minds and took back their male and female slaves they had let go free and forced them to become slaves again. 12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, saying, 14 ‘At the end of seven years, each of you must let his fellow Hebrew who sold himself to you go. He may serve you six years, but then you must let him go free from your service.’ But your ancestors did not obey me or pay any attention. 15 Today you repented and did what pleased me, each of you proclaiming freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before me at the house that bears my name. 16 But you have changed your minds and profaned my name. Each has taken back his male and female slaves who had been let go free to go wherever they wanted, and you have again forced them to be your slaves. 17 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming freedom, each for his fellow Hebrew and for his neighbor. I hereby proclaim freedom for you—this is the Lord’s declaration—to the sword, to plague, and to famine! I will make you a horror to all the earth’s kingdoms. 18 As for those who disobeyed my covenant, not keeping the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat them like the calf they cut in two in order to pass between its pieces. 19 The officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf—20 all these I will hand over to their enemies, to those who intend to take their life. Their corpses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals of the land. 21 I will hand King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials over to their enemies, to those who intend to take their lives, to the king of Babylon’s army that is withdrawing. 22 I am about to give the command—this is the Lord’s declaration—and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, capture it, and burn it. I will make Judah’s cities a desolation, without inhabitant.” 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them to one of the chambers of the temple of the Lord to offer them a drink of wine.” 3 So I took Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons—the entire house of the Rechabites—4 and I brought them into the temple of the Lord to a chamber occupied by the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God, who had a chamber near the officials’ chamber, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. 5 I set jars filled with wine and some cups before the sons of the house of the Rechabites and said to them, “Drink wine!” 6 But they replied, “We do not drink wine, for Jonadab, son of our ancestor Rechab, commanded: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine. 7 You must not build a house or sow seed or plant a vineyard. Those things are not for you. Rather, you must live in tents your whole life, so you may live a long time on the soil where you stay as a resident alien.’ 8 We have obeyed Jonadab, son of our ancestor Rechab, in all he commanded us. So we haven’t drunk wine our whole life—we, our wives, our sons, and our daughters. 9 We also have not built houses to live in and do not have vineyard, field, or seed. 10 But we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done everything our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. 11 However, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched into the land, we said, ‘Come, let’s go into Jerusalem to get away from the Chaldean and Aramean armies.’ So we have been living in Jerusalem.” 12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go, say to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem, ‘Will you not accept discipline by listening to my words?—this is the Lord’s declaration. 14 The words of Jonadab, son of Rechab, have been carried out. He commanded his descendants not to drink wine, and they have not drunk to this day because they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I have spoken to you time and time again, and you have not obeyed me! 15 Time and time again I have sent you all my servants the prophets, proclaiming, “Turn, each one from his evil way, and correct your actions. Stop following other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I gave you and your ancestors.” But you did not pay attention or obey me. 16 Yes, the sons of Jonadab son of Rechab carried out their ancestor’s command he gave them, but these people have not obeyed me. 17 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring on Judah and on all the residents of Jerusalem all the disaster I have pronounced against them because I have spoken to them, but they have not obeyed, and I have called to them, but they did not answer.’ ” 18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you have obeyed the command of your ancestor Jonadab and have kept all his commands and have done everything he commanded you, 19 this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Jonadab son of Rechab will never fail to have a man to stand before me always.’ ” 1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Take a scroll, and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah, and all the nations from the time I first spoke to you during Josiah’s reign until today. 3 Perhaps when the house of Judah hears about all the disaster I am planning to bring on them, each one of them will turn from his evil way. Then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.” 4 So Jeremiah summoned Baruch son of Neriah. At Jeremiah’s dictation, Baruch wrote on a scroll all the words the Lord had spoken to Jeremiah. 5 Then Jeremiah commanded Baruch, “I am restricted; I cannot enter the temple of the Lord, 6 so you must go and read from the scroll—which you wrote at my dictation—the words of the Lord in the hearing of the people at the temple of the Lord on a day of fasting. Read his words in the hearing of all the Judeans who are coming from their cities. 7 Perhaps their petition will come before the Lord, and each one will turn from his evil way, for the anger and fury that the Lord has pronounced against this people are intense.” 8 So Baruch son of Neriah did everything the prophet Jeremiah had commanded him. At the Lord’s temple he read the Lord’s words from the scroll. 9 In the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people of Jerusalem and all those coming in from Judah’s cities into Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord. 10 Then at the Lord’s temple, in the chamber of Gemariah son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper courtyard at the opening of the New Gate of the Lord’s temple, in the hearing of all the people, Baruch read Jeremiah’s words from the scroll. 11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah, son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, 12 he went down to the scribe’s chamber in the king’s palace. All the officials were sitting there—Elishama the scribe, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. 13 Micaiah reported to them all the words he had heard when Baruch read from the scroll in the hearing of the people. 14 Then all the officials sent word to Baruch through Jehudi son of Nethaniah, son of Shelemiah, son of Cushi, saying, “Bring the scroll that you read in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch son of Neriah took the scroll and went to them. 15 They said to him, “Sit down and read it in our hearing.” So Baruch read it in their hearing. 16 When they had heard all the words, they turned to each other in fear and said to Baruch, “We must surely tell the king all these things.” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, how did you write all these words? At his dictation?” 18 Baruch said to them, “At his dictation. He recited all these words to me while I was writing on the scroll in ink.” 19 The officials said to Baruch, “You and Jeremiah must hide and tell no one where you are.” 20 Then, after depositing the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, the officials came to the king at the courtyard and reported everything in the hearing of the king. 21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the scribe. Jehudi then read it in the hearing of the king and all the officials who were standing by the king. 22 Since it was the ninth month, the king was sitting in his winter quarters with a fire burning in front of him. 23 As soon as Jehudi would read three or four columns, Jehoiakim would cut the scroll with a scribe’s knife and throw the columns into the fire in the hearth until the entire scroll was consumed by the fire in the hearth. 24 As they heard all these words, the king and all of his servants did not become terrified or tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah had urged the king not to burn the scroll, he did not listen to them. 26 Then the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to seize the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah, but the Lord hid them. 27 After the king had burned the scroll and the words Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 “Take another scroll, and once again write on it the original words that were on the original scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned. 29 You are to proclaim concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have burned the scroll, asking, “Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land and cause it to be without people or animals?” 30 Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no one to sit on David’s throne, and his corpse will be thrown out to be exposed to the heat of day and the frost of night. 31 I will punish him, his descendants, and his officers for their iniquity. I will bring on them, on the residents of Jerusalem, and on the people of Judah all the disaster, which I warned them about but they did not listen.’ ” 32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim, Judah’s king, had burned in the fire. And many other words like them were added.