to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 12, 2019 – Thursday
Jeremiah 38:20-23 NIV
20 “They will not hand you over,” Jeremiah replied. “Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.
21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me:
22 All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon. Those women will say to you: “‘They misled you and overcame you—those trusted friends of yours. Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you.’
23 “All your wives and children will be brought out to the Babylonians. You yourself will not escape from their hands but will be captured by the king of Babylon; and you will cause this city to be burned down.”
The above is Jeremiah speaking with king Zedekiah, telling him he must surrender to the Babylonians if he wishes to live. Earlier Jeremiah was even more explicit
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’”
But king Zedekiah was afraid that even if he was spared the Jews who had already gone over to the Babylonians would mistreat him. This brings us to our verse of the day – the choice before Zedekiah, surrender and trust God while facing his fear of those who had already surrendered or do his best to escape hoping the prophecy of Jeremiah would not come true. What do you think Zedekiah did? What would you do? Before reading on, consider the choice and honestly consider what you might do, who would you trust?
We have only to turn to the next chapter to find out what king Zedekiah did. There we find, after Jerusalem fell, he disobeyed God. Instead of obeying he fled along with soldiers and nobles. They were pursued and captured on the plains of Jericho. After their capture they were taken to the land of Hamath where Nebuchadnezzar pronounced judgment.
6 There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. 8 The Babylonians[c] set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem
This is an incredible lesson for all of us when it comes time to trust and obey what God tells us in facing our fears or instead run from God’s directions in disobedience.
The other thing to really notice in the midst of all of this is God’s astonishing mercy offered to king Zedekiah if he would but obey His instructions. This was a king who had been disobedient to God many-many times in the past, but nonetheless God offers mercy. Two New Testament like examples come to mind. The first example is of the two thieves on crosses next to Jesus’ cross. One repents and is saved. The second example is of Paul on the road to Damascus to terrorize and even kill more Christians when he has a meeting with Jesus. He recognizes Jesus for who He is and his life is changed forever.
I believe God offers these choices to us on a regular basis. The question is do we take the time to listen and realize the choices we have before us? When we finally listen, what choice do we make? Do we listen to and obey God or do we run from our fears?
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)