man sealing document August 20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 37-38; Ezekiel 29:1-16; Ezekiel 30:20-26; Ezekiel 31:1-18

Irrevocable Plans

Sometimes, important decisions cannot be changed. A trust, contract or other legal document may be irrevocable, and there are consequences for violating it. When violations happen, justice must be meted out. If not, something worse will happen. That is the way it was for the nation of Judah when she was nearing the eve of her destruction in 586 B.C.

Babylon is God’s instrument of judgment. The LORD has been gracious and patient with Judah for over 100 years after Israel was captured and deported. He is waiting for her to return to Him from her rebellion and wickedness. It does not happen. Instead, Judah is becoming more and more wicked and wretched. Already, Babylon has attacked twice and taken her king, nobles, soldiers, and much of the people away into exile, along with much of the palace and temple treasuries. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, appoints Zedekiah to rule over Judah. Zedekiah is her king...her last king.

After ten years, King Zedekiah forges an alliance with Egypt and rebels against Babylon. Babylon is irate and besieges Jerusalem, so that she experiences famine. Her fate is irrevocable. God has sent messages by His prophets time after time, warning her of coming judgment, but she will not listen. Babylon will soon attack a third time and destroy her. This is the prophecy of Jeremiah. But the king, city leaders, and people of Judah aren't listening.

The message of Jeremiah is not well-received. After he delivers the message, he seeks to get his share of some property in the former territory of Benjamin. He is caught and accused of deserting to the Babylonians, and then he is beaten and put into a dungeon.

Although Jeremiah suffers for his negative message, after he is released it does not change. God’s plans are irrevocable. He is holy and righteous, and He expects His people to be the same.

The royal officials complain that Jeremiah is discouraging the soldiers and the people. The king then gives them permission to deal with Jeremiah as they think best. They seize him and lower him into a dry well. Jeremiah sinks deep into the mud and is left to starve. Ebed-Melech, a royal official, informs the king of his circumstances, and Jeremiah is once again rescued.

The king has one chance to save himself and his people—surrender to the Babylonians. If he does not, the people will be killed and Jerusalem burned.

Zedekiah is relying on Egypt to help Jerusalem break the siege. Egypt gives Jerusalem temporary relief, but it does not last. Babylon will come back and destroy Egypt. From that time on Egypt will be a weak nation, never arising as a world power. Her actions, too, are irrevocable. God says, “Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 29:16, NIV).

Is the Almighty our God? Do we rely upon Him, or everyone and everything else but Him? Those who trust in the LORD are not disappointed. There is mercy for those who turn from their sin to Him for their salvation. He gives forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Lessons to Live By

  • Before the consequences of our sins become irrevocable, we need to repent! We need to turn from our sins to God for forgiveness and salvation (more...).
  • The LORD is holy and expects His people to be the same.
  • Giving God’s holy message is not always safe. The LORD can, however, be our protector and defender as He was with Jeremiah. Let's trust Him today.
  • Those who mistreat or are unfair to God’s people often suffer for it.

Focus Verses

Psalm 33:10-11 (NIV) “The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

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A Look Ahead: Jerusalem the capital of Judah is destroyed. Is there any Hope in their Despair? Is there any hope when we despair? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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