June 14, 2009 – June 20, 2009
“And he [Zedekiah] did [that which was evil] in the sight of the Lord his God, [and] humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet [speaking] from the mouth of the Lord.” II Chronicles 36:12.
Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 452–463; Testimonies, vol. 4, 184, 185.
“While he [Zedekiah] was convicted of the truth as spoken by Jeremiah, he did not possess the moral stamina to obey his counsel, but advanced steadily in the wrong direction.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 184.
1 Although Zedekiah had inquired of Jeremiah the will of the Lord, how did he receive the inspired words? II Chronicles 36:12.
Note: “He [Zedekiah] had started upon the wrong track and would not retrace his steps. He decided to follow the counsel of false prophets and of men whom he really despised and who ridiculed his weakness of character in yielding so readily to their wishes. He yielded the noble freedom of his manhood to become a cringing slave to public opinion. While he had no fixed purpose of evil, he also had no resolution to stand boldly for the right.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 183, 184.
2 In speaking with Jeremiah, what was the main concern of the king, and how is this a lesson for us? Jeremiah 38:19–27.
Note: “He [Zedekiah] was even too weak to be willing that his courtiers and people should know that he had held a conference with the prophet, so far had the fear of man taken possession of his soul. If this cowardly ruler had stood bravely before his people and declared that he believed the words of the prophet, already half-fulfilled, what desolation might have been averted!” Testimonies, vol. 4, 184.
“You are not to seek that popularity which has led far away from the simplicity of Christ. God is to be your Leader. Those who are Christians will stand in the strength of God. They will show in their lives the superiority which God gives to obedient subjects, those who are loyal to His commandments. Those who believe the truth will never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Medical Ministry, 167.
3 How solemn was Zedekiah’s promise of loyalty to King Nebuchadnezzar? II Chronicles 36:13 first part.
Note: “Through Daniel and others of the Hebrew captives, the Babylonian monarch had been made acquainted with the power and supreme authority of the true God; and when Zedekiah once more solemnly promised to remain loyal, Nebuchadnezzar required him to swear to this promise in the name of the Lord God of Israel. Had Zedekiah respected this renewal of his covenant oath, his loyalty would have had a profound influence on the minds of many who were watching the conduct of those who claimed to reverence the name and to cherish the honor of the God of the Hebrews.
“But Judah’s king lost sight of his high privilege of bringing honor to the name of the living God.” Prophets and Kings, 447.
4 What is written of Zedekiah’s behavior? II Chronicles 36:13 last part. How is God appealing to each one of us? Hebrews 3:14, 15.
Note: “It is not safe for us to close our eyes and harden our conscience so that we shall not see or realize our sins. We need to cherish the instruction we have had in regard to the hateful character of sin, in order that we may truly confess and forsake our sins. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ [I John 1:9.] Are you willing to be cleansed from all unrighteousness? Is it your purpose to press forward? but not in your own human strength, toward the mark for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus?” The Youth’s Instructor, July 5, 1894.
5 What was the Lord forced to declare about His people in Jeremiah’s day? II Chronicles 36:14–16. What sentence was finally given to them? Ezekiel 8:18.
Note: “The day of doom for the kingdom of Judah was fast approaching. No longer could the Lord set before them the hope of averting the severest of His judgments. …
“Foremost among those who were rapidly leading the nation to ruin was Zedekiah their king. Forsaking utterly the counsels of the Lord as given through the prophets, forgetting the debt of gratitude he owed Nebuchadnezzar, violating his solemn oath of allegiance taken in the name of the Lord God of Israel, Judah’s king rebelled against the prophets, against his benefactor, and against his God. …
“To the ‘profane wicked prince’ had come the day of final reckoning. ‘Remove the diadem,’ the Lord decreed, ‘and take off the crown.’ [Ezekiel 21:25, 26.] Not until Christ Himself should set up His kingdom was Judah again to be permitted to have a king.” Prophets and Kings, 450, 451.
6 What was predicted about Jerusalem, and why? Jeremiah 9:9–16. When the few righteous inhabitants knew that the temple was to be destroyed by fire, what did they do?
Note: “Among the righteous still in Jerusalem, to whom had been made plain the divine purpose, were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the Decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.” Prophets and Kings, 453.
7 How do the Scriptures describe the fall of Jerusalem? Jeremiah 52:4–6, 12–14.
Note: “The enemy swept down like a resistless avalanche and devastated the city. The Hebrew armies were beaten back in confusion. The nation was conquered. … The beautiful temple that for more than four centuries had crowned the summit of Mount Zion was not spared by the Chaldeans. ‘They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.’ II Chronicles 36:19.” Prophets and Kings, 458, 459.
8 How terrible was the end of King Zedekiah, his family, and the nobles of Judah? Jeremiah 52:8–11. Who else was taken captive, and why? II Kings 25:11.
Note: “The weakness of Zedekiah was a sin for which he paid a fearful penalty. … [He] was taken prisoner, and his sons were slain before his eyes. The king was led away from Jerusalem a captive, his eyes were put out, and after arriving in Babylon he perished miserably.” Prophets and Kings, 458, 459.
“The children of Israel were taken captive to Babylon because they separated from God, and no longer maintained the principles that had been given to keep them free from the methods and practices of the nations who dishonored God. The Lord could not give them prosperity, he could not fulfill His covenant with them, while they were untrue to the principles He had given them zealously to maintain. By their spirit and their actions they misrepresented His character, and He permitted them to be taken captive.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1040.
9 If King Zedekiah had believed Jeremiah’s words, what experience of Jehoshaphat could he also have expected? II Chronicles 20:20. What should we realize from this experience? Proverbs 6:23.
Note: “Zedekiah was faithfully instructed through the prophet Jeremiah, how he might be preserved from the calamities that would surely come upon him if he did not change his course and serve the Lord. The calamities came, because he would not, through obedience, place himself under the protection of God. With his eyes put out, he was led in chains of captivity to Babylon.
“What a sad and awful warning is this to those who harden themselves under reproof, and who will not humble themselves in repentance, that God may save them!” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1040.
10 What firm position should Zedekiah have taken? Joshua 24:15. How would this have influenced the people? Joshua 24:24.
Note: He [Zedekiah] should have said, I will obey the Lord, and save the city from utter ruin. I dare not disregard the commands of God because of the fear or favor of man. I love the truth, I hate sin, and I will follow the counsel of the Mighty One of Israel. Prophets and Kings, 458
Then the people would have respected his courageous spirit, and those who were wavering between faith and unbelief would have taken a firm stand for the right. The very fearlessness and justice of this course would have inspired his subjects with admiration and loyalty. He would have had ample support, and Judah would have been spared the untold woe of carnage and famine and fire.
“Heavy will be the responsibility that will rest upon men who have had great light, and great opportunities, and who have yet failed to be wholly on the Lord’s side. Should they venture to be wholly on the Lord’s side, they would be preserved in integrity, even when they were called upon to stand alone. He would enable them to stand courageously, in purity and fairness, contending for uncorrupted principles of righteousness. He would sustain them in battling for the right because it is right, though justice were fallen in the street, and equity could not enter. … Through all this strife of error against truth, they would be preserved.” The Home Missionary, September 1, 1894.
“With what tender compassion did God inform His captive people in regard to His plans for Israel. He knew what suffering and disaster they would experience were they led to believe that they should speedily be delivered from bondage and brought back to Jerusalem according to the prediction of the false prophets. He knew that this belief would make their position a very difficult one. Any demonstration of insurrection upon their part would have awakened the vigilance and severity of the king, and their liberty would have been restricted in consequence. He desired them to quietly submit to their fate and make their servitude as pleasant as possible. …
“Just such men arise in these days and breed confusion and rebellion among the people who profess to obey the law of God. But just as certainly as divine judgment was visited upon the false prophets, just so surely will these evil workers receive their full measure of retribution; for the Lord has not changed. Those who prophesy lies encourage men to look upon sin as a small matter. When the terrible results of their crimes are made manifest, they seek, if possible, to make the one who has faithfully warned them responsible for their difficulties, even as the Jews charged Jeremiah with their evil fortunes.
“Those who pursue a course of rebellion against the Lord can always find false prophets who will justify them in their acts and flatter them to their destruction. Lying words often make many friends, as in the case of Ahab and Zedekiah. These false prophets, in their pretended zeal for God, found many more believers and followers than the true prophet, who delivered the simple message of the Lord.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 173, 174.
“The Lord is testing and proving you. He has counseled, admonished, and entreated. All these solemn admonitions will either make the church better or decidedly worse. The oftener the Lord speaks to correct or counsel, and you disregard His voice, the more disposed will you be to reject it again and again, till God says: ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of My counsel: they despised all My reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.’ [Proverbs 1:24–31.]” Testimonies, vol. 5, 72.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.