September 9, 2016

Jeremiah 37:3 King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”

The Bible is loaded with examples of hypocrisy, and this is a good one. Zedekiah was the son of a good king. Reading about Josiah his father is glorious and encouraging. However, Zedekiah was far from fully devoted to God. He made the right move here, but he was looking to God, through Jeremiah, as an “escape clause” rather than with any real commitment to obedience. He knew what obedience to God looked like from watching his father, but he didn’t follow through on his own. He evidently got pretty close, since he sent both a government official and a priest to Jeremiah, but the problem was in his lack of follow-through. This is a good object lesson for us. We are to inquire of God, certainly, but we need to be committed to obedience before we know what His answer will be. Too often we “seek God,” but all we really want is a rubber stamp on our own plans. I think everyone is guilty of that sometimes, so the question is whether we realize it and repent. The reason we are given free will is not so we can choose to abandon God, but rather so that we can choose obedient devotion to Him. If the possibility of rebellion and rejection were not real, then free will would be an illusion and the whole concept of sin a fiction. However, it is all too possible for us to go through the motions with our hearts not in it, and so be mired in sin even while people around us think we are pious. Our actions are important, but God wants us from the inside out. Sometimes we have to slog through stuff when we don’t feel it. Even Mother Teresa confessed to that. The question is our commitment to obedience. That is the true test of love for God.

Wow! That hits hard! I have certainly had my times of being on the wrong side of this issue. Like Zedekiah, I had an exemplary father, but the Lord had to point out to me rather strongly that my standing with Him was not on the basis of my father (though I do enjoy generational blessings) but on the basis of my own repentance, faith, and obedience. Because I knew the routines so well, I could fool a lot of people – including myself! God wasn’t after the routines, He was after my heart, and it had wandered pretty far, even though it knew Him. Right now, I feel I am to share this principle with people this Sunday, but I don’t yet know how. I am to be humble and quiet before the Lord, allowing Him to show me the Scriptures to be used and how the points are to be made. It would be ironic indeed if I were to preach on this subject out of my own head instead of in joyful obedience to Him!

Father, Thank You for this strong message. Usually I have sermon notes done by this time in the week, so this was also another lesson in trusting You. I do ask for clear anointing as I work on the notes, not to make the task easy (though it does) but so that it will be Your Word indeed, working Your will in the hearts and lives of all who hear it, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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