Concluding the book of Jeremiah Jerusalem’s fall is revisited. And the reason for their fall is stated loud and clear. God’s patience came to an end.
When I first started reading this section, I was wondering if we would see more detail or a different perspective of this story. At this point, we are given a view from Judah’s side of the events. We don’t hear about the Chaldeans entering into the city. But we do hear about Zedekiah, his family, the officials and the fighting men leaving the city. And we hear the same story of the end of Zedekiah’s sons and his fate.
What we didn’t see ‘loud and clear’ is why this all happened. Of course, we have been hearing/reading about the why all along. We have gone with Jeremiah as he pleads with the people to repent and avoid this future. How God has sent His prophets time and time again to try and get the people’s attention. But they refuse to listen. If anything, they get worse and farther away from Him with each passing day. So, in concluding the book of Jeremiah, God sums it all up in one verse; “For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that He cast them out from His presence” (verse 3a).
This “point” was centuries in the making. The shift in the people’s attitudes started happening LONG before they demanded a king. Between the end of Solomon’s reign and the time Israel fell, there were 201 years of God calling out to the northern kingdom of Israel. From the moment they broke with Judah, they replaced God with a golden calf and as many other gods as they wanted. He exercised GREAT restraint with them. But His patience ran out with them.
Judah had bits and spurts where her people were brought back to the Lord but after 335 years God had enough. When they did return to Him, it lasted no more than a generation. Most of the times when the people of Judah were brought back, they came bringing their own idols too. In their whole history, David and Josiah were the only ones to eliminate the idols and high places. The only ones to destroy anything that wasn’t of God.
God said “ENOUGH!”
There were a few people who were still faithful to God at this point. Jeremiah was one of that minority. I believe Baruch was another. And there were still others who went into captivity previously and at this juncture in time that still worshiped God. It wasn’t enough.
God HAD to maintain at least a portion of the people in preparation of sending His Son to save them all. This lesson of captivity would be one that would stick with the people forever. Nothing became perfect overnight but the attitudes and faith of the people would change as a result of the captivity God was sending them into.
I was thinking about the fact that Israel had been a slave before. In my mind, I was comparing the difference between the two times. Enslavement in Egypt probably happened gradually. First of all, Israel sought out help from Egypt. The famine was so great in the land of Canaan that Israel and all who were with him were starving to death. They came to Egypt for relief from their pain. God lifted them up as one and deposited in Egypt for safety and for time to grow as a nation. And as they grew, they became hated and feared. Which ultimately resulted in their complete enslavement. They had to be pried from Pharaoh’s hand in the end with GREAT difficulty.
This time, Judah didn’t go willingly to her captors. Some did but most went kicking and screaming. They weren’t seeking a better life. Their enslavement was a foregone conclusion. And, believe it or not, their enslavement was actually loosened over time. They would be encouraged to return to their home in the end and supported in every way possible.
God was faithful to His people the WHOLE TIME. But there came an end to His patience. God was STILL faithful even after His patience was exhausted. He patiently taught them lessons they would NEVER forget.
He is patient with this world still. But His patience has a limit too. It WILL run out again. Man will find himself in even more trouble than Judah did at the end of His patience. PLEASE, don’t be one that tests His patience. He loves us but He WILL discipline us when we need it.
Father God, THANK YOU for Your patience. I know I test it more times than I should. I’m sorry Father. I really don’t want to do this to You. Thank You for not giving up on me, even when Your patience is severely tried. I PRAY that I test You less and less each day. I want to bring You joy when You think about me, not a ‘here she goes again’ child.