teach dice ornament on table with books August 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 24:5-6, 8-9; 2Chronicles 36:8-9; 1Chronicles 3:10-16; Jeremiah 13:1-27; 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. They may yell, ask questions to peak interest, tell stories, bring in an authority or expert to speak on the subject, or for a particularly difficult audience that doesn’t listen, some might use object lessons.

At this point in our Chronological Bible study, Israel (the northern kingdom) is gone. It has been destroyed by Assyria and its people exiled. About 100 years later, Judah, her sister nation (which became eviler), is 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 temple treasures are taken away. Judah becomes a vassal nation. After three years Jehoiakim revolts, and then Babylon lays siege on Jerusalem. During the siege, Jehoiakim dies. Jehoiakim will not listen or heed Jeremiah’s warnings, and God punishes him. When he dies, no one mourns for him, and he has a very dishonorable burial (Jeremiah 22:18-19).

Before God punishes Judah again, He tries object lessons to get her attention. First, the LORD instructs Jeremiah to take a linen sash (part of the garment of the priests), tie it around his waist, and don't let it touch the water. He is then to hide it in the crevices of some rocks near the river at Perath (some translations say the Euphrates, but this is probably an inaccurate rendering of the word, for it is 700 miles from Jeremiah, and his illustration would be lost to his audience (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1146)). Afterward, Jeremiah returns to Perath to retrieve the sash. It is completely useless. The object lesson teaches the people, and especially the priests and leaders, that once God's righteousness preached by the prophets girded the nation, but since they hide God's righteousness, their lives are now useless (Jeremiah 13:9-10).

Jeremiah is then directed to take two wineskin bottles and fill them with wine. He tells the people something obvious in its logic—every wineskin should be filled with wine. “What is the meaning of this?” they ask.

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).

Then, while they look on, Jeremiah smashes the wine bottles, symbolizing the destruction of the nations of Israel and Judah as God’s wrath spills on the ground.

Jeremiah warns 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 is performing these object lessons, the priests and false prophets of Jerusalem are telling a different story. Jeremiah counters,

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).

Is there any hope for Judah? There is no hope in the immediate future for those who remain in the land. Because her extreme wickedness is like Sodom and Gomorrah, God gives her up, and His wrath will soon be spent on her. Jehoiachin follows his father's reign, but he only reigns for his very short time (three months), Nebuchadnezzar comes and takes him, his mother, 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 have no hope under the appointed vassal king, Zedekiah.

In Jeremiah 24, Judah is likened to a basket of good figs and a basket of bad withered figs. The good figs represent the exiles in Babylon. God will give them new hearts so they will become good and return to the land. The bad withered figs are the people and officials left in Jerusalem. They and Judah’s last king, Zedekiah, will be completely destroyed because they will not turn to God from their sins. Nevertheless, although Judah will be scattered like chaff and the land lie parched and withered, in the future the LORD will gather the descendants of Israel and Judah from all over the world and bring them to their land. Jesus Christ will be their Savior and King, forever ruling in righteousness.

Which are we, good fruit or bad? Perhaps we are like the basket of good fruit; although 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 turn to God from our sins 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 some lie and turn people away from God. We need to know the truth of God's Word and be a student of it so we will not be deceived.
  • 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 turn from our evil ways, making us like good fruit (more...). Those who will not turn are like bad fruit and will be destroyed (Revelation 20:15)

Focus Verses

Romans 2:6-8 (NIV)

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.

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A Look Ahead: When bad news comes, it is best to Accept Life's Challenges instead of fighting against them. We will see this in our Next Lesson.

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