Snuggle up to the weak (1)Jeremiah 21:1-10ⅠEntering a critical phase
1 Tessalonians 5:12-22
In chapter 24, the activity time of the prophet Jeremiah has moved in the days of King Zedekiah. The king of Josiah (BC608 deaths) later, many kings have replaced, the first king was Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah king; at that time, the new Babylonia empire which destroyed Assyria (612 years), as a winner of Mesopotamia, has appeared in the stage of history (BC 608). Jehoahaz was deposed by Paro Necho of Egypt who had faced the king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon at Carchemish in just three months, his brother Jehoiakim became the king on behalf of. When Babylonia which has won the battle with Necho and came to invaded Canaan, Jehoiakim changed his attitude from Egypt to Babylonia unceremoniously (605 years), but three years later, his attitude has changed to Egypt again, by the misinformation of defeat of Babylon which invaded Egypt (BC 601). Of course Babylon did not permit his betrayal; three years later (BC 597), the army of Babylon attacked the kingdom of Judah, and went pulling to Babylon a lot of people as a captive. This is the first Babylon captivity. Jehoiakim died immediately before, it is said he would have been assassinated. The king who became instead of him was Jehoiakim, the son of Jehoiachin; but he was taken to pull Babylon, he was the king of only three months. And, the one whom Babylon made the king of Judah was Zedekiah, he was the uncle of Jehoiachin. It is there "Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem;" (Ⅱ Kings 24:18). He became the last king of Judah.
Such king Zedekiah sent Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah, in order to listen to the oracle. "Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is warring against us; perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, that the enemy may withdraw from us." (2) This Pashhur is a different person, not Pashhur of 20:1. And this priest Zephaniah would have been a successor of the temple guard secretary Pashhur of 20:1 (see 29:25-26, 29); he would have been a higher position, because his name is mentioned before the name of Zephaniah. Such a important persons were sent to Jeremiah. It is implied that Judah has been in the crisis aspects.
Ⅱ Relying on the divine message of gods
It is after 10 years already since the days of king Jehoiakim; the reign of king Zedekiah would be approaching the end of '11. At this time, the Babylonian army had begun to surround the Jerusalem; the fate of the kingdom of Judah was like a lamp before the wind. So that, king Zedekiah sent a messenger to the prophet Jeremiah who had become famous at that time, and asked for divine revelation. At this time, the name of Jeremiah had become widely known. It would be that the situation in Judah had been changed to prophecy as Jeremiah.
From the question of Zedekiah, the thing that he asked the prophet Jeremiah seems different from the sincere attitude of David and Moses of once, in front of the word of God. The world affairs of this times (BC 6-4 century), it is a time of leap to see rarely in human history, and science and thought and culture has been much developed in many parts of the Eurasian continent. As it was called "The Age of the pivot" (Jaspers) or "Eurasian Cultural Revolution" (謝世輝), it was a rich period of major change. China was the Spring Autumn Warring States period, and in Mesopotamia, winners had to change frequently. Greece area drained many sages and has reached the prime of one, and Roma gained its power, too. Ironware has put to practical use, and while such a culture was developing, it was the rise of the great power. Of course, conflict was being repeated everywhere. Under such circumstances, centered on the Delphi temple, "oracle of the gods" had been respected. In Israel, such gods because had already enters, this question of Zedekiah sounds like the ones that have been poisoned by such a trend. Surely, the prophet group that had been swarming around the king would have answered in such a "divine revelation" in many times, to the consultation of king. It was something pleasant to the ear of the king, not to mention. That he might be sent the messenger to Delphi temple, I have imagined it so. However, the situation surrounding Judah is not a thing in such a makeshift. In the situation which has become more stringent with each passing day, king thought prominent prophet would be willing to break this situation, and sent messengers to Jeremiah. Once before, the Lord hath saved Jerusalem from Assyria military (2 Kings 19), would he have hoped it again?
Ⅲ Snuggle up to the weak
However, the world of such an oracle has nothing to do with Jeremiah. Only the truth word of God is in him. He told the exactly opposite response to the divine revelation that Zedekiah king wanted. "Thus says the Lord of Israel. 'Behold, I am about to turn back the weapons of war which are in your hands, with which you are warring against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall; and I shall gather them into the center of this city. And I Myself shall war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation. I shall also strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they will die of a great pestilence. Then afterwards.' declares the Lord, 'I shall give over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword, and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their foes, and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword. He will not spare them nor have pity nor compassion.'" (4-7) God is hostile to Israel and will fight; the description of this message will not need anymore.
However, I want to take up two things here. The first one is the word "with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm,". As in the case of Egypt escape of Israel (32:21, Exodus 14:31,15:12), originally, it was "the words" involved in the salvation of Israel. Here, it has been used in the opposite sense at all. "I judge it" determinedly; the strong will of God seems to come through. And, this is the second thing. Please pay attention to this words, "Thus says the Lord of God of Israel" (4); the wrath of God seems to be visible there, it says that God had signed an agreement with Israel, but that contract was broken, and it says that He became the adversary of Israel. "In anger and warth and great indignation"; strong expression is repeated. The full extent of the severe judgment of God was revealed finally in here in this message which says "the pestilence, the sword, and the famine", "those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword,".
"Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I set before you the way of the life and the way of death. He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty. For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good.' declares the Lord. 'It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.'" (8-10) It is thought this is was told in the same situation under Verse 4-7, but it has become a fairly gentle expression. Because Verse 4-7 was the message to the belligerent group and the king, but this would have been told towards the people at another time. The attitude of Jeremiah towards king, officials and the leader was severe, but towards the people, it has become calm. The main cause of the responsibility of the sin of Judah, would it be on those who standing on the top? Of course, it does not mean that there is no sin in people. However, the prophet must be present to snuggle up to the poor and the weak people; the principle of God seems to stand out here. I think this would have been the faith of Jeremiah and Baruch. Especially, Baruch would have been troubled and have thought it out, for why Israel became God's selection people and for why this selection people had to bear this hardship. The eyes of God is directed to the weak ones always. To cuddle up to the weak one; has it been lacking in Israel? Heart of mercy; it is the hallmark of the holy God... As Jesus has done so, those who believe in Jesus also has come to be so. There is it, "And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil..." (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15). Don't you want to be so?