PERSEVERE IN OBEDIENCE JEREMIAH 37-38 AUGUST 26, 2012 FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, USAThis lesson is about persevering in serving the Lord by refusing to compromise godlyconvictions no matter what the cost to you or to those around you.John Bunyan was born in 1628 in Elstow, England. After marrying in his 20s he becamea Christian, joined a Baptist church & soon became concerned about his lack ofprogress in the Christian life.At age 27, shortly after he began preaching, England outlawed preaching outsidethe auspices of the Church of England.He refused to quit preaching and spent over 12 years in prison.After his release, he continued to preach and was imprisoned a second time.He was released again and kept preaching until his death at age 60 in 1688.Bunyan refused to compromise his convictions even if it meant imprisonment andgreat suffering for him and for his family.He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress during his imprisonments.At one time, The Pilgrims Progress was considered the most widely read andtranslated book in the English language apart from the Bible.
Protestant missionaries commonly translated it as the first thing after the Bible.This lesson focuses on the proper response to trials, disillusionments, troubles anddisappointments – the response that pleases God – persevering faith and obedience.
On August 5th we learned of Jeremiah’s call, on the 12th of his broken heart over thesins of Judah and then last week of his challenge to overcome discouragement.This week we learn more about his courage to obey God in the face of deadlyopposition.Jeremiah’s ImprisonmentJeremiah 37:11-1711 “When the Chaldean (kal DEE uhn/Babylonian) army withdrew from Jerusalembecause of Pharaoh’s army (587 B.C.), 12 Jeremiah started to leave Jerusalem to goto the land of Benjamin to claim his portion there among the people.”In Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah had purchased some property from his cousin and now thatthere was a lull in the action, he decided to take a short trip to Anathoth to “claim hisportion there among the people.” Jeremiah knew that there would be rougheconomic times ahead so he intended to redeem the family property.13 But when he was at the Benjamin Gate, (the gate on the north side of Jerusalemthat led to the territory of Benjamin), an officer of the guard was there, whose namewas Irijah (eye RIGH juh) son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, and he apprehendedJeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans.”Irijah’s task apparently was to protect the city from spies or anyone who appeared tothreaten the security of Jerusalem.
14 “That’s a lie,” Jeremiah replied. “I am not deserting to the Chaldeans!” Irijah wouldnot listen to him but apprehended Jeremiah & took him to the officials.15 The officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him and placed him in jail in thehouse of Jonathan the scribe (secretary of state), for it had been made into a prison16 So Jeremiah went into a cell in the dungeon and stayed there many days.”Are you willing to be obedient to God even if it means getting beaten up?This imprisonment was much worse than the two previous ones and he wasemaciated by the time this imprisonment ended.17 “King Zedekiah later sent for him and received him, and in his house privatelyasked him, “Is there a word from the Lord?”“There is,” Jeremiah responded, and he continued, “You will be handed over to theking of Babylon.”King Zedekiah (“Yahweh is my righteousness”) was a coward and saw this as anopportunity to give Jeremiah another chance to change his message.Jeremiah, who was anything but a coward, refused to compromise the Lord’smessage or to forsake his calling.Jeremiah retracted nothing and it was clear he would never compromise hisconscience.He serves as an excellent model for us of persevering faith when the Lord’s enemiesattack us with false accusations and persecute us when we speak God’s truth tothem.
What are some modern day examples of Biblical truths we need to speak out on?The siege was on and folks were dying of disease and starvation.Jeremiah 38 takes place just before the destruction of Jerusalem.Jeremiah 38:44 “The officials then said to the king, “This man ought to die, because he is weakeningthe morale of the warriors who remain in this city and of all the people by speaking tothem in this way. This man is not seeking the well-being of this people, but disaster.”Zedekiah had moved Jeremiah from the dungeon to “the guard’s courtyard” – partof the king’s palace where problem characters were kept under the watchful eye ofthe king.Zedekiah moved Jeremiah to the guard’s courtyard for Jeremiah’s protection.Just as Paul preached from prison, so did Jeremiah.The officials decided that the only way to silence a man like Jeremiah was to kill him(the same conclusion that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day came to concerningChrist) so they appealed to Zedekiah again and the weak king caved in again totheir wishes.Zedekiah was more a prisoner of the princes than Jeremiah was.Jeremiah 38:55 King Zedekiah said, “Here he is; he’s in your hands since the king can’t do anythingagainst you.”Zedekiah was scared to death of the princes even though he was the king! The fear of the sneer of the peer!Zedekiah was the king.He could have delivered Jeremiah if he had just had a little backbone.The reason that the lions didn’t eat Daniel was because they didn’t want to eatsomething that had that much backbone.
We are to stand firm and you need some backbone in order to stand firm.Matthew 27:2424 “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead,he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocentof this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!” 75Matthew 27:2626 “Then he released Barabbas to them. But after having Jesus flogged, he handedHim over to be crucified.”
King Zedekiah handed Jeremiah over to his enemies just like Pilate handed Jesus overto those who wanted Him dead.Jeremiah 38:66 “So they took Jeremiah and dropped him into the cistern of Malchiah the king’s son,which was in the guard’s courtyard, lowering Jeremiah with ropes. There was nowater in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.”All over Jerusalem, cisterns caught water during the rainy season to be used duringthe dry months (May – October).The fall of Jerusalem occurred in July 587 B.C.Therefore, the water in this cistern had been used up by July and there was only mudleft in the bottom.Few people knew that Jeremiah was at the bottom of the cistern so the princeshoped that no one would bring him food and he would soon starve to death.Have you ever felt stuck in the mud?
One day a farmer´s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hoursas the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was oldand the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn´t worth it to retrieve thedonkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed ashovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what washappening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone´s amazement, he quieted down. Afew shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished atwhat he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doingsomething amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.As the farmer´s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he wouldshake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkeystepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off. Life is going to shovel dirt onyou, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well, is to shake it off and take astep up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wellsjust by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step upward!
Obedience to God’s word can be very costly to you and to those around you.Jeremiah did not give in to the pressure to tell folks what they wanted to hear.Obeying God was #1.How does our desire to hear the message that we want to hear sometimes cause usto miss God’s best for our lives?Why do we sometimes think we are outsmarting God when we are disobedient toHim?He will not reward disobedience.What are some things in our age group that would tempt us to take the easy way outinstead of standing strong in our obedience to God?The easy way is often the cowardly way.Jeremiah 38:7-107 “But Ebed-melech, a Cushite (a black man) court official employed in the king’spalace, heard Jeremiah had been put into the cistern. While the king was sitting atthe Benjamin Gate,8 Ebed-melech went from the king’s palace and spoke to the king:9 “My lord the king, these men have been evil in all they have done to Jeremiah theprophet. They have dropped him into the cistern where he will die from hunger,because there is no more bread in the city.”10 So the king commanded Ebed-melech, the Cushite, “Take from here 30 menunder your authority and pull Jeremiah the prophet up from the cistern before hedies.”
The official’s death plan was foiled by a courageous unsung hero of the Bible, Ebed-melech. He is a fine example to us of taking a stand with God’s servants to help themto persevere during difficult times.Barnabas, Son of Encouragement, stood with Paul when the church leaders thoughthe was a dangerous spy.Because of Barnabas being willing to stand with Paul during a difficult time, thechurch leaders accepted Paul who went on to become the greatest missionary theworld has ever seen and whom God used to write over half of the New Testament!Has God gifted you with a ministry of encouragement?The word "encouragement" is closely linked to the Holy Spirit, Who is known as theComforter/Helper. The words "encouragement" (paraclesis) and "Comforter"(paracletos) are essentially the same in the Greek language.The Holy Spirit is the Encourager.Have you ever thought that one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to encourageyou?
Have you ever prayed for the Holy Spirit to encourage you in times of trials andtribulations?Does God want to use you to encourage someone else as He used Ebed-melechand Barnabas?In what ways can we offer support and encouragement to younger people who arefacing situations where they must stand alone?Is there a minister who is “stuck in the mud” and needs your support and needs you tolift them out of the pit?As we get older, does it become more difficult or easier to stand alone for what weknow to be right?Jeremiah 38:1414 King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the thirdentrance of the Lord’s temple. The king said to Jeremiah, “I am going to ask yousomething; don’t hide anything from me.”The third entrance of the Lord’s temple was a special entryway for royalty andprovided a safe place for the king to meet Jeremiah without the princes knowingabout it.Jeremiah 38:15-1815 Jeremiah replied to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, you will kill me, won’t you? Besides, if Igive you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.”16 King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah in private, “As the Lord lives, Who has given usthis life, I will not kill you or hand you over to these men who want to take your life.”17 Jeremiah therefore said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord, the God of Hosts, theGod of Israel, says: ‘If indeed you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, thenyou will live, this city will not be burned down, and you and your household willsurvive. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then thiscity will be handed over to the Chaldeans. They will burn it down, and you yourself willnot escape from them.’”
Judah was definitely going to fall to Babylon but the fate of the city and the templewas in Zedekiah’s hands.Many deaths and great destruction would be avoided if Zedekiah believed God’sword as delivered through Jeremiah to him for years.Zedekiah and his family would also be spared.Zedekiah was being called upon to believe God and to do the opposite ofconventional wisdom but he continued to make the wrong decisions and it led to thedisaster Jeremiah had predicted.The rest of the story is sad and ugly.At Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons right before his eyes andthen blinded him so that the last thing he ever saw was the brutal death of his ownfamily.Zedekiah was put in bronze chains and died on the way to Babylon.Judah being defeated by the Babylonians was part of God’s disciplinary process.Since Israel had broken the covenant, she must be disciplined in order to bring herback into right relationship with God and made more amenable to His purposes.The carrying forth of God’s great purposes was more important than the preservationof the state (Israel did not become a recognized state again until 1948).The Davidic dynasty was responsible to God for overseeing justice in the society inkeeping with God’s law (Exodus 22:20-23).If the government does not uphold God’s law, judgment comes on the governmentand on the entire country.Godly government is indispensable to the well-being of a nation. When it goes – lifefalls apart!
We have experienced God’s blessings on this great nation through the AbrahamicCovenant.Genesis 12:33 “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, andall the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”If we continue to remove God from our culture and if we cease blessing Israel, Godwill remove His protective hand from the USA and He will stop blessing us and we willgo the way that ancient Israel went into defeat and into captivity.God will not reward disobedience but He will reward our faithfulness.Hebrews 11:6 NIV6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Himmust believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”Hebrews 11Group A: verses 33-35aGroup B: verses 35b-38Hebrews 11:33-35aGroup A:33 “those who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises,shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of thesword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreignarmies to flight. 35a Women received their dead—they were raised to life again.”Hebrews 11:35b-38Group B:35b“Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain abetter resurrection, 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well asbonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died bythe sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, andmistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and onmountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”Hebrews 11:39-4039 “All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what waspromised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would notbe made perfect without us.”God does not promise us 78 years of health and happiness but He does promise tonever leave us not to forsake us.He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
Success = obedience to God regardless of the cost to you or to those around you. Next week Matthew 5:1-16