Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Previously on the Judah melodrama: Jeremiah the prophet has been in prison for displeasing the king by speaking the truth about the Kingdom of Judah’s bleak future, if they don’t repent. Their arch-enemy, Babylon, is gathering war troops like a storm on the horizon. And the king, petulant as ever, hears a new message from Jeremiah, delivered by overnight Baruch scroll express; the king cuts it up, throwing each piece into the fire.
The drama continues:
After the king had burned the scroll on which Baruch had written Jeremiah’s words, the Lord gave Jeremiah another message. He said, “Get another scroll, and write everything again just as you did on the scroll King Jehoiakim burned. Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals. Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins. I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.’” So Jeremiah took another scroll and dictated again to his secretary, Baruch. He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire. Only this time he added much more! Jeremiah 36:27-32(NLT)
The old saying about power being a corrupting influence on a person, and absolute power corrupting absolutely is an old saying for a very good reason; it’s true! And truth has a habit of staying around long after the echo of lies has abated.
For our visual evidence this morning, look the picture entitled “Ruins” by the photographer; it is the ruins of a castle in lower Austria. While the scene is quite impressive against the backdrop of a city in the valley below, if we wish to maintain appropriate perspective, remember that what remains on that mountaintop speaks of a momentary flash of grandeur by the former owner. Those people are long dead; their “kingdom” is but a footnote against the backdrop of humanity, which, itself is only a small blip in eternity’s lifeline.
Jehoiakim was a king, but he didn’t understand this. And any ruler who doesn’t get it will fare no better than the bleached bones exposed to the elements that marked the king of Judah’s final epitaph.
By comparison, when confronted with the Word of God, another earlier king named David, who had sinned just as badly as Jehoiakim, didn’t cut up the scroll and burn it; rather he let the Word of God burn out of his life all that separated him from God.
And that’s a good lesson for a ruler…or a citizen.
Yesterday we looked at the lack of humility in the candidates running in our current election cycle. Today, let’s reflect on what kind of people elect such arrogant, God-despising leaders.
What kind of scroll would Baruch overnight to us?
And, when confronted with our own sins, will we remember Jehoiakim and not burn the message (or the messenger)? Could it be that it’s time to repent and let the fire-power of God’s cleansing Word transform our allegiance to a lasting kingdom?
What’s in YOUR kingdom? And is it an eternal one, or is it bound for ruins?