teacher using globe to help her student learn August 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Kings 24:5-6, 8-9; 2Chronicles 36:8-9; 1Chronicles 3:10-16; Jeremiah 13; 22:18-30; 23:1-8; 2Kings 24:10-17; 2Chronicles 36:10; Jeremiah 24

Getting Attention

There are various ways and means that parents, teachers, and leaders use to get attention. Some yell, some ask questions to peak interest, some tell stories, some bring in another authority or expert to lecture, and for a particularly difficult audience that doesn’t listen some will use object lessons to teach.

At this point in our Chronological Bible study, Israel had been destroyed by Assyria and its people exiled. About 100 years later, Judah, her sister nation (which became even more evil), was attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon during the reign of King Jehoiakim. At this first raid her young nobles, princes (including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), and some temple treasuries were taken away. Judah became a vassal nation. After three years Jehoiakim revolted, and Babylon laid siege on Jerusalem. Apparently, during the second attack Jehoiakim was killed and was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin. Jehoiakim would not listen or heed Jeremiah’s warnings, and God punished him. When he died, no one mourned for him, and he had a very ignoble burial, (Jeremiah 22:18-19).

Before God punished Judah again (after Jehoiachin’s three month reign), he tried object lessons to get her attention. First, God told Jeremiah to take a linen sash (part of the garment of the priests), tie it around his waist and not let it touch water. He was then to hide it in the crevices of some rocks near the river at Perath (some translations say Euphrates, but this is probably an inaccurate rendering of the word, for it was 700 miles from Jeremiah, and his illustration would have been lost with his audience (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1146)). Shortly thereafter, he was to return to Perath and retrieve it. It was completely useless. The object lesson was used to teach the people, and especially the priests and leaders, how their righteousness was useless (Jeremiah 13:9-10).

Jeremiah was then told to take two wineskin bottles and fill them with wine. He told the people something obvious in its logic – every wineskin should be filled with wine. What was the meaning of this, they asked.

This is what the LORD says: “I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. I will smash them one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them,” (Jeremiah 13:13,14, NIV).

Though not specifically stated, it appears that Jeremiah smashed the wine bottles, which symbolized the destruction of the nations of Israel and Judah as God’s wrath spilled on the ground.

Jeremiah spoke to the people:

Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.

“Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom,” (Jeremiah 13:15-16, NIV).

While Jeremiah was performing these object lessons, apparently the priests and false prophets of Jerusalem were telling a different story. God said,

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’” (Jeremiah 23:16-17, NIV)

Was there any hope for Judah? There was no hope in the immediate future for those who remained in the land. Because her extreme wickedness was like Sodom and Gomorrah, God had given her up, and his wrath was just about to be expended upon her. After Jehoiachin reigned for his very short tenure (three months), Nebuchadnezzar came and took him, his royal entourage and soldiers, and all but the poorest of people of Judah into exile in Babylon. The remainder of the people in Jerusalem had no hope under the appointed vassal king, Zedekiah.

In Jeremiah 24, Judah was likened to a basket of good figs and a basket of bad withered figs. The good figs represented the exiles in Babylon. God would give them new hearts so that they would become good and would return to the land. The bad withered figs were the people and officials left in Judah. They and Judah’s last king, Zedekiah, would be completely destroyed because they would not repent. Still, though Judah would be scattered like chaff and the land lie parched and withered, in the future he will gather the descendants of Israel and Judah from all over the world and bring them to Israel. He will be their Savior and their King, forever ruling in righteousness.

Which are we, good fruit or bad? Perhaps we are like the basket of good fruit; though we have made mistakes, when we confess our sins we receive mercy and forgiveness and favor with God. If we are like the bad withered figs (the wicked unrepentant people in Jerusalem), we are doomed to destruction (Revelation 21:8). If we are bad fruit, we should repent while there is still time, for if we decide to reject God and go our own way we will be destroyed (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 2:3; more...)

Lessons to live by:

  • Object lessons are useful to gain attention
  • Satan is at work even in some so called prophets and spiritual leaders. Beware, for they turn people away from God.
  • God sees all that we do. He rewards us for good behavior and punishes us for bad behavior
  • God forgives us and gives us peace when we repent, making us like good fruit (more...). Those who will not repent are like bad fruit and will be destroyed (Revelation 20:15)

Today’s Bible memory verses: Romans 2:6-8

God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (NIV)

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