Summary: This sermon is about how hard it can be to follow God’s direction.
This Is Scary Stuff!!!
We are going to discuss a text from Jeremiah 38 when Jerusalem was being threatened by the army of Babylon.
Jeremiah has been imprisoned because he was prophesying that the nation was going to go into exile and that they were going to be defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.
In our text the Attack by the Babylonian Army is imminent and the King sends for Jeremiah so he can ask him about what is going to happen and what he should do.
Let’s read Jeremiah 38:17-23
I. Direction Can Be Scary vs. 17-18
Vs. 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.’ "
So he got direction but it was scary stuff because he had his concerns about what would happen if he followed that direction.
Vs. 19 details that concern.
19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I am afraid of the Jews who have gone over to the Babylonians, for the Babylonians may hand me over to them and they will mistreat me."
Basically his concern was if we surrender they will hand me over to the people and they will kill me.
Zedekiah’s concern about the direction he received from Jeremiah was pretty strong stuff.
He was obviously torn for several reasons:
- He Had People That He Trusted Giving Him Bad Advice
- He Had Real Concerns About The Animosity Of His People
- He Was Also Human And Had The Regular Human Frailties (fear, indecision, Pride)
Can that stuff be stronger than what is right, what is best, what God desires, what is obviously the way to go?
It absolutely can be and probably has been at some point.
II. The Consequences Of Not Following The Direction We Receive Have To Be Weighed
Jeremiah clearly told Zedekiah that he would not escape the Babylonians and that trying to get away would be accompanied by disastrous consequences.
But the fact is, regardless of the risks of all the consequences, trusting bad advice, the animosity of the people, and his human frailties, defeated his ability to follow God’s direction that was so clearly revealed to him at this important moment of his life.
God is very good at arriving on the scene during those important times, just as He did here.
God sent Jeremiah to Zedekiah with life saving direction.
He had direction that would save Zedekiah a lot of pain and difficulty and lose.
All he had to do was follow the direction during those critical moments when he had to decide what he was going to do.
And unfortunately he made the wrong decision.
He gave into the things that were pressuring him and when the time came to make a decision he made the wrong one.
He decided to make his escape with disastrous consequences.
Jeremiah 39: 4 When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah. 5 But the Babylonian [c] army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. 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.
The consequences don’t get more disastrous than that.
Had he followed Jeremiahs direction everything may not have come up roses but it would have had to be pretty bad to beat what happened when the Babylonians caught him and took him to Riblah.
Here’s the challenge, you can’t know this stuff in advance.
It aligns with what God says about how He desires us to live life.
We are called to live by faith.
We are called to live obediently.
We are called to live with the right priorities.
So we have to learn to take leaps of faith and become followers of Christ.