Jeremiah presents a question asked by the righteous in every generation: "Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?" (Jeremiah 12:1b)
The wicked often appear happier than those who remain faithful to the LORD. Their happiness, however, is temporal. It is founded on appearances, earthly positions, and the abundance of possessions. And it is based only on today. Therefore, their happiness isn't to be envied, but pitied.
Little do those in Jerusalem know that a two-year siege lies not far in their future, when a lengthy siege will cause a severe famine in their midst, and people will eat their own offspring, "And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair" (Jer. 19:9).
Moses warned of such a day, "You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straights in which your enemy shall distress you . . . the tender and delicate woman among you . . . will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege" (Deut. 28:53-57).
Jehoiakim reigns for eleven years, Jehoiachin reigns for three months, and the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign is interrupted by the Babylonians, who lay siege to Jerusalem until his eleventh year, when he is taken captive, his sons killed before his eyes, his eyes are poked out, and he and most of the residents of Jerusalem are carried off to Babylon. Because of the extreme famine in the city, it is likely that women do eat their newborn children. Doesn't sound very happy!
That truth--that today's happiness is tomorrow's sorrow-sustains the righteous. They look to and live for another day. They live not for happiness today, but for Christ's return. Because they live for that day, joy fills their hearts, and they hold what the world offers loosely. Holiness trumps happiness every time.
An unappreciated and seemingly unsuccessful ministry zaps Jeremiah of his strength. How does the LORD address his weariness of soul?
The LORD commands Jeremiah to use visuals (pottery, baskets of figs, linen sash, title deed) as teaching tools. What does Jeremiah's linen sash represent?
Review Deuteronomy 28:23. What had Moses promised would occur should Israel continue in disobedience? What reason does Jeremiah give for the droughts experienced by Judah?
The LORD refers to the successful intercession of Moses and Samuel (15:1). Why does the LORD tell Jeremiah not to pray for Judah? What does this reveal about God? About the hard-heartedness of God's people?
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