GOD will REWARD us ACCORDING to OUR ACTIONS
August 19 Bible Reading: Jeremiah Chapters 37-39
"In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated." (Jeremiah 39:1-2)
Jerusalem was so strong, that the inhabitants believed the enemy could never enter it. But sin provoked God to withdraw his protection, and then it was as weak as other cities. After King Zedekiah had ruled Judah for eleven years, the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 586 B.C. What we read in chapter 39 is how God rewarded three different people living in Jerusalem according to their actions:
- God rewarded Zedekiah for his wickedness (vv. 1–10). King Zedekiah did not pay any attention to the word of God that He spoke through His prophet Jeremiah. "But neither he (Zedekiah) nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the Lord which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah." (Jer 37:2) He was specifically requested by Jeremiah to obey the voice of God and surrender to the Babylonian king as follows: "...please obey the voice of the Lord which I speak to you. So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live." (Jer 38:20) But Zedekiah, his sons, and his men of war tried to flee but were captured. The last thing Zedekiah saw was the execution of his own sons; then he was blinded. He walked by sight and ended up in darkness. He lived to serve himself and lost everything. He learned the truth of these words: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).
- God rewarded Jeremiah for his faithfulness (vv. 11–14). For forty difficult years, he courageously proclaimed God’s Word, even though the people refused to obey it. If we measure ministry by “results,” Jeremiah was a failure. Given his freedom, he chose to remain with his people and minister to them. We see that the Babylonian king gave instructions through the captain of his guard that Jeremiah should be well-treated, and eventually the prophet was released from the court of the prison. How true are these words - "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalms 84:11)
- God rewarded Ebed-Melech for his kindness (vv. 15–18). This is what God spoke to this Ethiopian eunuch through Jeremiah: "I will deliver you…and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me," says the Lord. (Jer 39:17-18) God did not forget the act of kindness done to Jeremiah. God rewarded this Ethiopian for persuading King Zedekiah to release Jeremiah from the slimy pit dungeon for his kindness (38:7–13). Now we know why this foreigner had rescued Jeremiah: he had put his faith in the God of Israel (v. 18). It must have been Jeremiah’s witness that won him. An outsider trusted the God of Israel, but the Jews would not trust Him!