Listen and Live

In the early church, believers shared whatever they had to meet one another’s needs. Barnabas sold some property and gave the money to the apostles to distribute. Noticing the praise he received, Ananias and his wife Sapphira decided to do the same…almost. They gave part of the money, but kept the rest, saying they’d given it all. Because they lied to God, they were both punished with death (Acts 4:32–5:11).

God hates hypocrisy. Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be generous but were not. Similarly, King Zedekiah appeared to be full of faith but was not. He rebelled against Babylon in 588 B.C., inquired of a true prophet, and expressed hope in God’s wonder- working power for victory (Jer. 21:1–2). Weren’t these “steps of faith”? No. This was his idea, not God’s. Zedekiah was merely wishing that God would get on board. It was an attempt to manipulate the Almighty. There had been no change in the king’s heart in response to any of Jeremiah’s messages.

Therefore, there was no change in God’s answer: Judah would still be conquered by Babylon (vv. 3–7). There would be plague, famine, and a total military defeat. Even worse, it would be as if God Himself was fighting against them. Ironically, Zedekiah’s name means “The Lord is my righteousness,” but he didn’t live up to it, nor did any of the political and religious leaders of that day. As a group, they were primarily to blame for the coming judgment.

Jeremiah presented the king with a familiar choice (vv. 8–10; see also Deut. 11:26–28). They could listen and live, or not listen and die. If they believed God, they should surrender to the Babylonians and save many lives. If not, they could keep fighting and pay the price.

It’s safe to say that many people who call themselves Christians today are not following the true gospel or the Word of God. With God on our side, let’s pray for revival!

Extended reading: Jeremiah 21–22

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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