READ: Jeremiah 38-40
THINK: While the majority of people reject God's Word, there will always be a large number who are actually inclined to believe what God says, yet they don't have the fortitude to stand up to pressure and proclaim that belief. Worried about their reputations, they become slaves to people's opinions. Sometimes, the most powerful and influential among us are the most prone to fears regarding public perception. King Zedekiah secretly believed Jeremiah's message, but his fear of others, his weak character and his lack of faith kept him from obeying God. As a result, Zedekiah brought shame on himself and ruin on the nation. He was like many today who refuse to do right even though they know their actions will eventually bring God's judgment on them and cause trouble for others.
RESPOND: Why did the king's officials want to kill Jeremiah (38:4)? (See 38:2 note.) Why did the king turn Jeremiah over to the officials (38:5), and what does this reveal about Zedekiah's character? (See 38:5 note.) What did the officials do to Jeremiah (38:6), and what conditions did he endure? (See 38:6 note.) How did Ebed-Melech intervene, and what did this reveal about his character (38:10-13)? How is Ebed-Melech an example to us? Why was Zedekiah afraid to take Jeremiah's counsel (38:19)? If the king believed Jeremiah's message, why did he respond as he did (38:24-28)? (See 38:20 note.) How long had Jerusalem been under siege before it fell to the Babylonians, and what were the conditions in the city during that time? (See 39:1 note.) What happened to the king, his officials and his family (39:5-7)? How is all of this a warning to us? (See 39:5-7 note.) Why do you think the Babylonians treated Jeremiah differently than they did most people (39:8-15; 40:3-6)? (See 39:11 note.) What did empires, like the Babylonians, typically do with the people they conquered, and why? (See 40:1-44:30 note.)
PRAY: Pray for strength to endure any opposition, rejection or persecution you may face for following Christ. Pray that you won't give in to pressure out of fear of what other people might think or do.
ACT: Keep standing for Christ and the truth of His Word, despite any pressure you're facing. Be bold but gracious to anyone who opposes you. Also, give a special thanks to anyone in your life who has been like Ebed- Melech in how they've stood up for you, defended you or helped you at their own cost.
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