The One Year® Chronological Bible (Tyndale, 2013), August 4
After Josiah’s death, his son Jehoiakim begins to reign. Under his leadership Judah returns to full-blown idolatry. This spiritual declension occurs twenty-three years into Jeremiah’s nearly fifty years of prophetic ministry to Judah. Jeremiah responds to Judah’s idolatry and announces an impending Babylonian captivity, “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jer. 25:11). Jeremiah urges Jehoiakim and Judah to return to the LORD, “Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands” (25:6). Jeremiah promises Judah that their temple would become like Shiloh and the city a “curse to all the nations of the earth” (26:6).
Prophesying during Jehoiakim’s reign places Jeremiah between a rock and a hard place: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word. Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way . . .” (26:3-4a). His audience of priests, prophets, and the people do not welcome his message and respond, “‘You will surely die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, “This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without an inhabitant!”?’ And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD” (26:8-9). All this took place in the LORD’s temple!
The temple of the LORD was a battle ground for truth and righteousness throughout Israel’s history. When the battle for truth and righteousness was lost in the temple, the protection of God was removed from the city, and Jerusalem was doomed for destruction.
A similar battle rages today. When God’s people compromise truth and righteousness in their places of worship, their surrounding city comes under the judgment of God. It always begins in the church house!
Churches and nations follow a predictable pattern. If the enemy cannot destroy them with THE LIE, then he will deceive them with half-truths, or divert them to do what is “good” instead of what is best. “Good” is often the bitter enemy of “best.” When the people choose the merely good, then they drift into half-truths. Next, they embrace THE LIE, and idolatry and immorality follow suit. Truth is never lost overnight; Jeremiah repeatedly reminds Israel that their fathers have drifted, and now they are in full-blown disobedience.
Those who are called by the Name of the LORD stick their heads in the sand when they compromise truth and righteousness. They will be judged along with the city to which they’ve been called as salt and light. When the light goes out and the salt loses its flavor, they too will perish along with the city. The battle for truth and righteousness in the marketplace is won or lost in the temple.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (2 Chron. 36:1-5; 2 Kings 23:31-37; Jer. 22:1-23; 25:1-14; 26; 2 Kings 24:1-4):
Review 1 Kings 2:1-4. What does David promise his son Solomon and his successors about ruling?
Describe Josiah’s successor to the throne.
Jeremiah confronts both of Josiah’s sons Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim regarding their abuse of the throne. List those abuses.
How does Jehoiakim respond to those who seek to influence the people to heed Jeremiah’s warning? What does this reveal about leaders who are determined to have their way?
Review Genesis 49:10. What does Jeremiah promise that ensures the fulfillment of this prophecy?