man considering decision August 25 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Lamentations 4, 5; 2Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40-42

Forfeiting Grace

What is the danger of forfeiting an opportunity? The danger in forfeiting is that we might lose out on an opportunity to win. We are probably most familiar with forfeiting in baseball or softball games. The win is given to the team that is currently winning because a comeback by the trailing team seems unlikely. Forfeiting opportunities happen in other areas of our lives as well. A man or woman forfeits the opportunity to settle down into a nice marriage because someone else might come by who would be a little more appealing. A good solid job is forfeited because it is not a dream job, even though there are no better prospects on the horizon. The danger of forfeiting is that we might lose out on an opportunity to win, but what do we do when we are not sure of the right course?

The nation of Judah had been destroyed by Babylon. Under a two year siege the people suffered famine and starvation before Babylon attacked. Jerusalem’s walls were broken down and burned, its people killed or scattered, and its temple and treasuries looted. They mourned their losses and Jeremiah the prophet writes of these in the book of Lamentations. They forfeited the grace that was once theirs.

How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull! The sacred gems are scattered at the head of every street.

How the precious sons of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter's hands!

Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those nurtured in purple now lie on ash heaps.

Their princes were brighter than snow and whiter than milk, their bodies more ruddy than rubies, their appearance like sapphires.

But now they are blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as a stick.

The LORD himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor.

O Daughter of Zion, your punishment will end; he will not prolong your exile. (Lamentations 4:1,2,5,7,8,16,22a, NIV)

They suffered great loss of life, property, and their nation. What was the way to go forward or were they done? No, God was not done with them; after God allowed Babylon to destroy their nation, he shared with them his future mercy and grace upon their nation. This should be encouraging to most Christians; though we may mess up and suffer terrible loss, and not know the way to go forward, God is still gracious and merciful. Even if you are not a Christian, God can give you forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and his favor (more...)

In King Zedekiah’s place King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon chose Gedaliah to govern the area of Jerusalem. This was God's grace. Gedaliah was a good, kind governor, who wanted the small remnant of Jews in Jerusalem and Judea to have peace and prosperity. Though they would be a vassal nation to Babylon and have to export the great majority of their crops; yet, they would have sufficient provisions to live on what they harvested. Gedaliah was content to relinquish past animosities and offer peace to the Jewish army and other refugees who had scattered. These Jews saw an opportunity for peace in their land and returned. For a few years the Jews grew an abundant source of grain and wine. Giving most of it away, however, was not acceptable to everyone. Under the prompting of the neighboring nation of Amon, Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, who was of royal Jewish blood, and ten men came and staged a coup against Gedaliah (For a complete discussion of this matter, consult The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1187). They killed Gedaliah at Mizpah (the new center of Israel since Jerusalem was destroyed) and the Jews and Babylonian soldiers that were with him. They forfeited the grace that could have been theirs. Why? Their plan seemed better to them than God’s plan for them. They took all the Jewish remnant of Mizpah, including King Zedekiah’s daughters with them to Amon, but they needed provisions. That same day eighty men came from the northern territory of Israel and Samaria, in mourning for the calamity that had befallen Judah, and came to worship God at the place where the temple once stood. Ishmael feigned sympathy with them, and then killed seventy of them to take their provisions.

When the rest of the Jewish army and men of Judah found out about the coup, they pursued Ishmael and were able to rescue the people of Mizpah from him. They also killed two of his men before the rest escaped. However, because of the assassination of Gedaliah, they were afraid to return to Israel. Instead, they went to Egypt because they thought they would find peace and safety there (Judah recently had an alliance with Egypt against Babylon before Judah was destroyed). While on their way, at Bethlehem they asked Jeremiah to seek the will of the LORD in this matter (always a good thing to do, by the way). In a very spiritual sounding proclamation, they told Jeremiah whatever God said for them to do they would do, good or bad. When Jeremiah gave them the wrong answer from God, (i.e., the answer they did not want), they refused to believe him. God told them they must not go to Egypt or they would die. If they stayed in the land of Judah, however, the Babylonians would have mercy upon them and God would protect them. Their course was set, however; their minds were already decided. In reality they were just looking for God’s stamp of approval on their plans. They refused to believe Jeremiah and continued on their journey to Egypt. Their obstinacy would lead to almost complete obliteration.

What about us? Will we accept God's plans for our life or resist them? What do we do when we are unsure of the right course to take? When do we forfeit and when do we keep playing? If God has been gracious to us, we need to keep following his will, trust him and not forfeit, though victory may not look promising.

Lessons to live by:

  • We may suffer terrible loss, but God is still merciful and gracious, especially to those who have a personal relationship with him (more...)
  • Our circumstances may not seem ideal, and we may be unhappy or unsettled. When we do not know the right course to take, we should not forfeit or quit. Trust God and ask him for wisdom. Be grateful for what the LORD has given you and keep serving him. Wait and be faithful where you are. Make no sudden moves. Be willing to accept the LORD’s answer for you and do His will, not your own. He wants to bless you for seeking Him first in all that you do.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Psalm 101:6 “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” (NIV)

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