We serve a God of second chances. In fact, He gives innumerable chances so that we would respond, turn from our ways, and surrender to Him. At the exact moment we give in to His will, we realize that we have only been striving in vain on our own. Sometimes it takes a while for us to realize that God keeps coming after us, not because He wants to boss us around and make us puppets, but rather because He knows His plan is the best way. In our readings over the past days, we have read that Jeremiah continues to speak the words of God to the people of Judah. Impending doom has been scheduled for many and still many continue to live in their own ways.
We pick up today where King Josiah has passed away and his 18 year old son has ascended to the throne. However, Nebuchadnezzar (try saying that 10 times fast) will not have another King come against him. So Neb (I’ll nickname him that from now on) comes up with a plot to deport Josiah’s son, Jehoiachin, and Jehoiachin’s mother. Short story long, Neb does as planned and then decides he wants to place a “puppet king” to take Jehoiachin’s throne (Not to be confused with an actual puppet that you find in the Godz Kidz room). Neb places Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah (formerly known as: Mattaniah), as the King so that Neb will be able to control Zedekiah (that’s why Zedekiah was called a puppet king, get it?).
The bible tells us that Zedekiah:
...did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. [2 Kings 24:19,20a]
Once again, we read about a King who defies the Lord. However we serve a God who gives innumerable chances, EVEN when we continue to go our own way! Although disaster is at hand, God still continues to give opportunities:
Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy. Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet. It was because of the Lord’s anger that all of this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from His presence.
[2 Chronicles 36:12 | 2 Chronicles 36:13b-16 | Jeremiah 37:2 | Jeremiah 52:2,3a]
God gave His people a chance, not just once, but again and again. Still, the message was not received, it was mocked and despised; no one listened.
If there is anything we can glean from this account in the bible, it should be that God is jealous for every part of our attention. When we are not giving Him everything, He will try to get our attention, not just once but again and again. My prayer is that I would listen, that I would give in the first time, that God wouldn’t have to get my attention again and again.
Unfortunately, Jerusalem and Judah experienced God’s wrath because they did not listen and in the end God removed them from His presence. What an excruciatingly terrible thing to have to experience.
Lord, we ask for open hearts to receive your word. Thank you that you are indeed the God of innumerable chances. We desire to walk in your ways, we relinquish our own agendas and give in to your plans. Amen!