Our Bible study class wrapped up part one of our Jeremiah study last week, which means we are through chapter twenty-four. Chapter twenty-four happens after the second siege on Jerusalem, around 597 BC. At that point the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (really bad king) was put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took over 10,000 people from Judah into captivity in Babylon.
For the Jews, God’s chosen people, leaving their home, the land God gave them, the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was one of the worst things that could happen to them.
But God (one of my favorite phrases in the Bible) had this to say about leaving their land and heading into captivity:
Jeremiah 24:5-7 (NASB) “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
Then He has this to say about those who were able to stay in their own land:
Jeremiah 24:8-10 (NASB) ‘But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness—indeed, thus says the Lord—so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them. I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.’”
Turns out, according to the rest of the book of Jeremiah (which we will be studying next), it really did get a whole lot worse for those who were able to stay in their own land than for those who were led away. In other words, as folks were packing up their lives and heading to a foreign land into captivity, likely they were thinking it was the worst day of their lives. But the truth was God had a plan. They just couldn’t see it at the moment.
There was another very pivotal point in history that looked like the worst thing that could possibly happen, the crucifixion of Christ. By all human standards of measure, He appeared to have failed miserably in His mission as the King of Kings, Savior of the World.
Think about those precious folks who had followed Him over the three years of His earthly ministry: the twelve disciples (down to eleven the day before the cross), His mother, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus. Many of them traveled, ate, drank, and slept with Him. They listened to Him teach, they prayed with Him. He washed their feet. He spoke everything to them that the Father said.
But they didn’t get it. When He died on that cross, it looked like all their hopes died with Him. It looked like the worst possible thing that could happen. How do you become King if you are dead? They lacked perspective.
On this side of that same cross though we know God had a plan they couldn’t see. We know in fact that Christ’s crucifixion was THE ONLY way to Christ’s resurrection and our salvation. Without the terrible road of the cross we would still be lost on the path to destruction. Still stuck in our own captivity to sin and death.
The truth is most of the time we lack the perspective to determine if our circumstances are good or bad, just like those headed into the Babylonian captivity and just like those who stood at the foot of the cross one dark Friday afternoon over 2000 years ago.
Father, help me to trust all my circumstances to You no matter how they look. Even if it’s the worst possible thing that I think could happen, help me remember that You NEVER leave me nor forsake me and that You alone are Sovereign over all. Help me to keep my eyes on You and trust all the outcomes to You alone.