Tuesday, June 04, 2019

How to Win Against Impossible Odds

 The future of any people lies in the hands of their leadership, whether it be religious or political (this is a biblical concept confirmed multiple times in scripture). 

That makes it critical for people to elect and follow good leadership

...and for leaders (whether spiritual or political) to listen to the right voices, to wise counsel

The historical example of Zedekiah is relevant for today. He was a wishy-washy fellow who also happened to be king during a critical time in his people's history. 

Little did he know (except by the words of a prophet he refused to listen to) that his was the administration that would make or break his nation. He would have only a few years to make decisions that would either propel his people into a time of Divine protection and prosperity or bring everything crashing down around them.

Making the right decision would involve faith and great courage. It would place his life and popularity at risk. It would work his enemies into deadly frenzies. The wrong decision would end life as they knew it.

The following is taken from The Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary (Notes from my Bible --by this writer):

    1: Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem And his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah .... 4: And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign in the tenth month in the tenth day of the month that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came he and all his army against Jerusalem and pitched against it and built forts against it round about 5: So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah 6: And in the fourth month in the ninth day of the month the famine was sore in the city so that there was no bread for the people of the land 7: Then the city was broken up and all the men of war fled and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls which was by the king's garden Now the Chaldeans were by the city round about and they [those that fled] went by the way of the plain 8: But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho and all his army was scattered from him 9: Then they took the king and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath where he passed judgment upon him 10: And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah Jeremiah 21:7-10, 32:4-5, 34:1-6&21, 11: Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah and the king of Babylon bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon and put him in prison till the day of his death[3]

[3] This was completely unnecessary. But even so, the people of Judah were placed in jeopardy and ultimately destroyed because their king, Zedekiah, was cowardly and double-minded Jeremiah 21:1, 27:12-14, 37:16-21, 38:13-20 & 24, . 

He was repeatedly warned to listen to God and to the truth. He was a wishy-washy coward who refused to heed repeated warnings that gave him ample opportunity to save the lives of his children and his people. Because of this, massive death occurred in his land. His sons were murdered in front of him, and he was blinded and imprisoned for the rest of his life.

There are indications that the heavy price he paid for his cowardice and faithlessness finally helped him to place his faith in YHWH, but not in time to avert disaster Jeremiah 32:5.  

That phrase in Jeremiah 32:5, “Until I visit him,” could be a reference to Zedekiah’s final condition of faith after the conquest of his kingdom. 

Another verse seems to confirm that Zedekiah’s imprisonment was likely a comfortable house arrest God said he would die in peace. It is doubtful that a true prison situation could be described as “peace.” After he was conquered, he had also transformed from a cowardly politician into a king beloved of his people.  

His passing was mourned and lamented. But is a tragic fact that the death and devastation of a king and his people could have been avoided altogether if only Zedekiah had possessed enough faith, strength of character, and the courage to obey the Word of the Lord—both the written Word and the verbal and written warnings from Jeremiah, God's true prophet Jeremiah 34:4-6

Contrast Zedekiah's fate (and all of his people) with that of Hezekiah when he was in a similar situation:   "And it came to pass when king Hezekiah heard it (That Assyria was invading), that he rent his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth (humbled himself before God) and went into the house of the LORD...And Hezekiah received the letter (the bad news) by the hand of the messengers and read it and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD...(and the LORD said) I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake and for my servant David's sake....And it came to pass that night that the angel of the LORD went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand...So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and dwelt at Nineveh."

Hezekiah and his people survived against impossible odds, because their leader sought wise counsel and turned to the right place (to God) for help.

People of God, pray. Pray like never before. Pray for our pastors and spiritual leaders, for our President, and political leadership at every level, to follow after what is right and good in the sight of God. 

We need shepherds who will tell us the truth, teach us the truth, toss political correctness to the winds, and feed us good food. We need a President who will do the same and fearlessly do what is right by Almighty God and by his people.

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