Tuesday 27 September 2011
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Read Jeremiah 23-24 at Bible Gateway.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jer 23:5-6
The LORD our Righteousness is in Hebrew, YHVH Tsidkenu. In other words, the name of the King who will reign in righteousness, the son of David, is Yehovah, the personal name of God, the Creator of heaven and earth. It is from passages like this one that we understand that Messiah Yeshua is a man who is fully divine, YHVH incarnate.
The LORD showed me, and there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. Jer 24:1
To catch up the history from where we left it off yesterday: We saw that Nebuchadnezzar had already come twice to Jerusalem with an army, each time subduing the rebellious king of Judah and upon receiving tribute and the promise that he would be Babylon’s vassal, Nebuchadnezzar withdrew and allowed Judah to keep its own king.
The first siege of Nebuchadnezzar was when he was still general of the Babylonian army, while his father was the king, in 609 bc. The Babylonians had just defeated the Egyptians, who had installed Jehoiakim on the throne, and to ensure that Judah’s loyalty was to Babylon and not to Egypt, they laid siege to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar allowed Jehoiakim to remain on the throne as long as he remained loyal to Babylon. At this time Nebuchadnezzar, in order to secure Jehoiakim’s good behavior, took captive a number of young men of the nobility of Judah, among whom was Daniel, and all the vessels of the Temple. And he departed.
After Nebuchadnezzar had become king of Babylon in 605 bc, Jehoiakim joined with Egypt and revolted against Babylon, and this was the occasion of Nebuchadnezzar’s second siege of Jerusalem. In 599 bc, Nebuchadnezzar reduced Jerusalem, killed Jehoiakim, installed his son Jeconiah on the throne, received his promise of loyalty, and again departed. We saw that Jeconiah was neither good nor wise. He caused so much trouble for Nebuchadnezzar that he returned a third time with his army, merely three months later, and again besieged Jerusalem, and angry at the continual revolts, this time carried off king, courtiers, and ten thousand captives to Babylon, among whom were the craftsmen and the smiths that Jeremiah spoke of. In this group of captives was included Ezekiel the priest.
Nebuchadnezzar now put Zedekiah, Josiah’s youngest son, on the throne of Judah, and received his promise of loyalty to his Babylonian overlord. This was in 599 bc. The LORD said to Jeremiah, that the ones who were taken captive to Babylon were like the good figs, who would return to the LORD with their whole heart, and the LORD would return them to their land and plant them again. The ones who were left in Jerusalem, including Zedekiah and his sons, were like the bad figs, and they would be driven into all the kingdoms of the earth until they were destroyed.
We cannot forget the righteous line of Abel and Seth, and the unrighteous line of Cain. There have always been two lines in the earth: The righteous line continued through Jacob, and the unrighteous line through Esau, which is why the LORD said that Jacob He loved, but Esau He hated (Mal 1:2-3). Even among Jacob’s descendants, the house of Judah and the house of Israel, God is continuing to sift them and separate the righteous line from the unrighteous line. Not everyone who is born a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is automatically of the righteous line, but, as Paul taught us, Abraham is the father of all who believe (Rom 4:11). God is purifying His people just as He did when they came out of Egypt with a mixed multitude. Those who opened their hearts, and obeyed Him, were grafted in to the righteous line of His people, even if they were ethnically Egyptian or whatever their nationality was. Those who hardened their hearts, and stiffened their necks, and did not obey Him, died in the wilderness, so that the congregation which entered the Promised Land under Joshua, were believers of the righteous line.
It would seem to human logic that being carried away captive to Babylon was a great calamity, and it was a calamity, but it was the means by which God removed His righteous ones from the idolatry and defilement of their homeland, to purify their hearts, to prosper and increase them, so that at the right time He could return them to their land. God is always able to work in calamity to bring about His plans, His purposes, and to fulfill His promises in the earth to His people. This is why no matter what happens in our lives that we cannot understand, it is wisdom to keep our hearts trusting in God and His faithfulness, and to never let bitterness against Him get a foothold.