Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from Sept. 28-Oct.2 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 24:1-4: In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. 2 And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, 4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed.
2 Chron. 36:5: Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.
I didn’t know that “Roberto,” a church leader, was badly mistreating his wife who taught Sunday school. By the time I was told by our pastor regarding their impending separation, he had warned Roberto several times to stop—but he didn’t. Eventually his wife filed for divorce.
If the Northern Kingdom (“Israel”) could talk, it would tell God that He was being unfair. While God let the Assyrians to swiftly destroy Israel in 722 BC as a punishment for its persistent rebellion, Judah, its sister kingdom, received two more chances before the Babylonians destroyed it in 586 BC. God had hoped that Judah, seeing Israel’s doom, would “return to [Him] with all her heart” (Jer. 3:10); but “unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery” (v.8). Thus, God declared, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah” (v.11).
The Babylonians first attacked Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (2 Ki. 25:1), and Judah became its vassal. Nevertheless, Jehoiakim continued to sit on the throne while the temple stayed intact. Had he repented then, there would’ve been no more Babylonian attack, for God had Jeremiah write, “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin” (Jer. 36:3). “In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim” (36:9), he finally heard “all the words of the LORD from the scroll” (36:11) prepared by Jeremiah; but, instead of repenting, “the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the fire pot” (36:23). Jehoiakim completely ignored God’s warning—much like Roberto
That brazen act resulted in a swift retribution that happened a little later— in 598—but God in His mercy didn’t end Judah yet; amazingly, she was given another 12 years to make things right with Him. When she stubbornly refused, the final curtain came down on her in 586 when the Babylonians annexed Judah, thereby ending her dynasty, and “set fire to the temple of the Lord” (2 Kings 25:9).
Proverbs 29:1 says, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.” Here is an advice worth heeding: When you are warned by godly and praying people because of your imprudent action, listen to them.
God, how gracious and merciful You are by giving us multiple opportunities to repent. It is certainly true that you take “no pleasure in the death of anyone.” Please help me to be sober-minded so that when I am warned of my unwise action, I will humble myself and heed. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Jeremiah 42:1-3, 7, 10, 13-15: Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah . . . came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do” . . . .
7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. . . . 10 “If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. . . . 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt’,. . . 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die.”
43:1-2: When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord . . . 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there, . . .’”
Gal 6:1: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Question to Consider
- Based on how Johanan, Jezaniah and Azariah responded to Jeremiah’s words, was their initial request genuine? Who are these guys and what were they trying to do?
- What does this say about the proper attitude we need to have before hearing from the Lord, particularly when encountering words of warning?
- When we are the ones who are giving the words of warning, what must we watch out for?
- These guys already had made up their minds before coming to Jeremiah. These are religious folks who cared a great deal about appearing spiritual, but when push came to shove, they chose what they wanted—not what God had told them.
- One attitude that needs to be exorcised is pride; that is, refusing to allow other people to speak into their lives. Jehoiakim, Johanan and Jezaniah acted as if they knew better than Jeremiah, God’s messenger. But ultimately, they rejected the one who sent him—God.
- For God to use us to speak into the lives of others, we better not act as if we are better than them, or that we are immune from the same problem being addressed. We must be gentle, compassionate, and empathetic.
As you wrap up this day, do you recall anything that was said to you (or even to someone else) that may have been God’s way of speaking to you? Close your eyes and reflect upon your day. Ask God what He wants you to hear from Him: perhaps affirmation or correction.