Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim as the king of Judah. He was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. But neither King Zedekiah nor his attendants nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah.
Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” Jeremiah had not yet been imprisoned, so he could come and go among the people as he pleased.
At this time the army of Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt appeared at the southern border of Judah. When the Babylonian army heard about it, they withdrew from their siege of Jerusalem.
Then the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The king of Judah sent you to ask me what is going to happen. Tell him, ‘Pharaoh’s army is about to return to Egypt, though he came here to help you. Then the Babylonians will come back and capture this city and burn it to the ground.’
“This is what the Lord says: Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren’t! Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army, leaving only a handful of wounded survivors, they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground!”
The people of Judah wanted to believe that the hard times were over. After all, the Egyptians had come to their rescue, right? Wrong. Jeremiah’s prophecies of judgment would be fulfilled. The Babylonians weren’t going anywhere for long.
King Zedekiah and his officials did not want to listen to Jeremiah’s words, but they wanted the blessings of his prayers. They wanted a superficial religion that wouldn’t cost anything. But God is not pleased with those who come to him only for what they can get, rather than seeking to establish or deepen a relationship with him. We would not accept that kind of relationship with someone else, and we shouldn’t expect God to accept it from us.
Is there a message from God you’ve heard recently that you’re tempted to ignore because it isn’t one you wanted to hear? Don’t reject truth because it’s difficult to swallow. Ask God for the courage to accept and trust him.