April 17, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Jeremiah 17-21
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Context: Judah's sin was grave and their punishment would be severe. They trusted in man instead of God. They attempted to deceive God with their actions, but God can see into their hearts. They refused to follow His Law. They will be punished. Chapter 18 takes place a potter's house. Several times through the scriptures, God is referenced as a Potter, and we are the clay. Have you ever seen clay? It is brown, ugly, and not at all appealing to look at. We were like that before we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. He molds us, shapes us, and makes us into beautiful creations that no longer resemble the clay from which we started out. Unlike clay, though, we have the ability to say no, to get up and walk away from the person God is trying to shape us into. Being shaped is not always easy. In chapter 19, Jeremiah takes one of these beautiful creations by the potter and smashes it, demonstrating that Judah, who God had shaped, would fall. A priest who did not like what Jeremiah was saying took Jeremiah and had him beaten and placed in stocks. Naturally, Jeremiah is despondent, so despondent he attempts to resign! But it is not that easy to resign from God's work. The final chapter of today's reading begins on an interesting and slightly humorous note. Jeremiah is sought out by King Zedekiah! Jeremiah, who has been mocked, ridiculed, and beaten for his message from God, is sought out by the king who previously wanted nothing to do with Jeremiah's message. When things get bad, Zedekiah went straight for the one man preaching the true Word of God. Of course, it was too late. Judah was going to be given in captivity to Babylon.
World History: Zedekiah would be the last king of Judah as his reign would end when Judah was conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Zedekiah was placed on the throne with the help of Nebuchadnezzar, who helped Zedekiah overthrow the king whom supported Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar invaded and seized Judah after Zedekiah began conspiring with Egypt to overthrow Babylon. The Babylonian Empire stretched from Persia, through Assyria and Syria, and down along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.