Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"Thy Life Shall Be for a Prey unto Thee"

 "For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 39:18

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian, had heard the prophecies. He knew what would happen to Jerusalem. He would see firsthand what starvation would drive men to do, what war and death would look like at the hands of the Babylonians. The horrors of living in a besieged city and the collapse of that city would one day destroy a nation. But Ebedmelech had received a promise from God through Jeremiah because he trusted the LORD.

The prophet Jeremiah had been cast into the dungeon for prophesying against the king. Ebedmelech the Ethiopian spoke to King Zedekiah on behalf of Jeremiah, and the king had Ebedmelech rescue Jeremiah, though the prophet remained in the court of the prison. These were the actions of a man of faith. This faith God would reward.

In Jeremiah 21:9 and 38:2, the LORD promises to give those who go with the Chaldeans out of Jerusalem  "his life for a prey, and shall live." 

The pain of hunger, the grief of the death of loved ones, the shame of what one may have committed when under the pressure of the siege (robbery, cannibalism, deceit), and the spiritual grief that their gods nor the LORD Jehovah would not rescue them, would weigh heavy on the survivors of Jerusalem's fall. Some may even wonder why bother to live?

But God, in His great mercy, gave them hope: "Thy life shall be for a prey unto thee." 

God, in this statement, not only promised Ebedmelech that he'd live, but that in living, he would have opportunity to gather the spoils of life, to experience the good things, the valuable things of life here on earth.  It was up to Ebedmelech, and also those individuals that went with the Chaldeans, to make the most out of the life God was mercifully giving back to them. 

Not only did God tell the people there would be some who would be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon, He told them:

"Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished." Jeremiah 9:5-7

God's plan for these people, who had chased after other gods and had worked wicked and evil things, included humbling them at the hands of the Chaldean army, but then to have them prosper and live in peace in Babylon.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

I hear a lot of fear-mongering going on in America today. I see people put their trust in a man, in a government, in a cure, in almost anything but Who can really save them. I hear of Christians planning for some apocalypse by storing up guns and food and medicines. I hear of others hiding their faith for fear of retribution. But rarely do I hear "Trust God".

The Jews were sent into captivity because they had sinned against God by worshiping other gods and committing all the atrocities such worship would cause them to commit. God would humble them because they would not humble themselves.

I hesitate to say that Christian Americans are like the Jews in 590 BC, when the King of Babylon and his army would destroy their homes. However, I do think we should take note of what happened to the Jews at that time so that we can turn away from the sin brought the Jews to their demise and live as God intends us to live. 

We were created for the sole purpose of worshiping God and bringing Him pleasure. This is what we should seek to do in every area of our lives. Even the apostles told their churches to humble themselves (I Peter 5:6) to live peaceable lives (II Corinthians 16:11), to live quiet lives (I Thessalonians 4:11), to not suffer for doing wrong (I Peter 4:15), and to not fear what we will suffer (Revelations 2:10).

I think we are to follow the advice God gave to the Jews going into captivity: build our houses and live in them, plant our gardens and eat from them, give our daughters and sons to marry and have children, teaching them how to worship God in truth and in Spirit. Let God take care of the rest.

"Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." Jeremiah 29:12-14   

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