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Give thanks for Jesus, who boldly ‘made the good confession’ before Pontius Pilate, not shirking the ensuing humiliation and suffering (1 Timothy 6:13).


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Bible passage: Jeremiah 38:1–28


Jeremiah 38

Jeremiah Thrown Into a Cistern
 1 Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said, 2 "This is what the LORD says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He will escape with his life; he will live.' 3 And this is what the LORD says: 'This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.' "

 4 Then the officials said to the king, "This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin."

 5 "He is in your hands," King Zedekiah answered. "The king can do nothing to oppose you."

 6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

 7 But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, 8 Ebed-Melech went out of the palace and said to him, 9 "My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city."

 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, "Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies."

 11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, "Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes." Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.

Zedekiah Questions Jeremiah Again
 14 Then King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance to the temple of the LORD. "I am going to ask you something," the king said to Jeremiah. "Do not hide anything from me."

 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I give you an answer, will you not kill me? Even if I did give you counsel, you would not listen to me."

 16 But King Zedekiah swore this oath secretly to Jeremiah: "As surely as the LORD lives, who has given us breath, I will neither kill you nor hand you over to those who are seeking your life."

 17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "This is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from their hands.' "

 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I am afraid of the Jews who have gone over to the Babylonians, for the Babylonians may hand me over to them and they will mistreat me."

 20 "They will not hand you over," Jeremiah replied. "Obey the LORD by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the LORD has revealed to me: 22 All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the officials of the king of Babylon. Those women will say to you:
       " 'They misled you and overcame you—
       those trusted friends of yours.
       Your feet are sunk in the mud;
       your friends have deserted you.'

 23 "All your wives and children will be brought out to the Babylonians. You yourself will not escape from their hands but will be captured by the king of Babylon; and this city will be burned down."

 24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Do not let anyone know about this conversation, or you may die. 25 If the officials hear that I talked with you, and they come to you and say, 'Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us or we will kill you,' 26 then tell them, 'I was pleading with the king not to send me back to Jonathan's house to die there.' "

 27 All the officials did come to Jeremiah and question him, and he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. So they said no more to him, for no one had heard his conversation with the king.

 28 And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Traitor's message
Imagine Winston Churchill’s famous ‘Fight them on the beaches’ speech being rewritten to say: ‘We will not defend our island, we’ll give way on our beaches, hand over our fields. We will surrender.’ It would have provoked a national outcry. Jeremiah’s task is to convey a traitor’s message, discouraging resistance (v 4). God is no longer fighting for his people. They must take their discipline.

What a counterintuitive and culturally insensitive message; not unlike Christian truth being spoken in the public square of contemporary nations or even God’s word being unleashed amongst us as compromised believers. Jeremiah is no pacifist. This is non-resistance to enable God’s refining judgement.

Costly words
Speaking the word of God is costly for one’s reputation and for one’s health (vs 4,6). Are we ready for that cost? Some, like Jeremiah, are called to speak truth to power. If you are looking for acclaim this may not be for you!

Jeremiah’s suffering is amplified because of the weak leadership of King Zedekiah (v 5). He stands in line with Darius the Mede (Daniel), Herod (John the Baptist) and Pilate (Jesus) as weak kings who abused power to wrongly condemn adversaries. We are grateful for a leader who specialises in humble service.

Andy Bathgate

Respond


What should you speak out about in your community and nation? Pray for leaders in church and nation, and especially for Christians in the public arena.


Deeper Bible study


Truth-telling can be very painful, as most Old Testament prophets discovered. People don’t often like to hear or face the truth. As TS Eliot said, ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality.’1 That was certainly the case in Jeremiah’s Jerusalem. His message – from God – was this: Jerusalem is going to fall into the hands of the Babylonians. If you hand yourselves over to the Babylonians now, you will live. If you stay here, when the Babylonians take over – as they surely will – you will die, whether by sword, famine or plague (v 2).

Fearful – or wicked (v 9) – officials told the king that for this supposed treachery Jeremiah should be killed (v 4). There was no question as to whether he was telling the truth (did they say it was false?). So Jeremiah’s fate lay in the hands of the palace officials and a weak king (v 5). Unsurprisingly, the officials neutralised Jeremiah, putting him in an empty water tank, with no food. But then an African official, probably from northern Sudan (how often is it outsiders who do the right thing? eg Luke 10:33–35) hears about it and acts (vs 7,8). Jeremiah is freed and put in a relatively safe place (v 13).

The upshot of this is a secret one-to-one between Jeremiah and Zedekiah (v 14 – there is no other mention of this Temple entrance). Again, Jeremiah faithfully passes on what God has said (vs 17,18). Rather than obey, however, Zedekiah exposes his vulnerability (v 19) along with a touching concern for Jeremiah (vs 24–26). The tables have turned. Whereas before it was Jeremiah who was trapped in the cistern, now it is Zedekiah who is trapped. Like a rabbit in the headlights, he doesn’t know which way to go. Zedekiah’s fate is sealed: there is an inevitability about what is to come (v 28). If only…

1 TS Eliot, The Four Quartets – Burnt Norton, © 1935

Emlyn and 'Tricia Williams

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Audio


  • Song: There's a sound (Restoration Song)
  • Composer: Lou Fellingham, Nathan Fellingham and busbee
  • Artist: Lou Fellingham
  • Album: Promised Land
  • Publisher: Kingsway Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music & The Livingstone Collective/kingswaysongs.com
  • Buy this album at www.integritymusic.com


Counting on your name
Tim Hughes, Nick Herbert & Ben Cantelon
Copyright © 2010 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com




Comments
  • Oakley Bookworm | Thursday, 08 November 2018

    When circumstances make my life too hard to understand, no doubt or fear, no pain or strife, can snatch me from God’s hand. - Martin Leckenbusch WORDS: http://www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk/?p=13625 MUSIC (MARTYDOM) https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/199113

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 08 November 2018

    Oakley, I join the others who are encouraged by your hymn posts. Always appropriate, they set the tone (so to speak) for the small group worship service in which all WLers may participate. The opening hymn calls us to worship; we study the Scripture passage and participate by our comments and prayers. And often there are additional hymns throughout the service. This is one of my favorite ways of worshipping - and I think I speak for many others. Thanks for your hymns. Please continue.

  • Stephanie Metts | Friday, 09 November 2018

    OAKLEY, I am in 100% agreement with REBECCA. Thank you. Your chosen hymns are always a blessing. Please continue.

  • Catherine Clarke | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Oakley, thank you for the blessings you bring with the hymns, their words have frequently helped to explain or contextualise a reading I have been uncertain about, please do continue, thank you. Blessings to all for a peace filled day.

  • Helen Stevenson | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Oakley u have a vast knowledge of appropriate hymns to quote.which we all benefit from. Keep them coming and thankyou so much

  • Frieda Wilson | Friday, 09 November 2018

    What a beautiful hymn this morning Oakley - thank you.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 09 November 2018

    I was thinking as I was reading our set passage of God’s Word to us this day, of the great difference between Jeremiah and Judas. One of them remained strong and firm, the other was weak and collapsed. Jesus admitted to His sorrow, that Judas was ‘lost’ and snatched away. May my belief and faith in Jesus and His Words keep me strong in what I say and do; may we all be “standing strong” for our King, Jesus.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Another daily reading where I comment used the Phil 2 passage today and I think my comment for today's verse 20 is just as appropriate, and that is obedience is dynamite that blows up stubborn barriers.

  • Jennifer Yohannes | Friday, 09 November 2018

    I don't follow Andy Bathgate's logic in the 3rd to last paragraph of his comments where he talks about contemporary situations. I wish I knew what he meant.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Jennifer - Do you think Andy is asking if we can confidently stand firm and speak out for Christ’s truth, even when we may face powers that may destroy us? Jesus served only God’s truth while living on this earth and this lead eventually to His murder.

  • Neil Crooks | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Jennifer - I think what Andy is meaning is that when we are speaking the gospel message today it is so counter-cultural to all that is currently going on in the world, so we need to be prepared for a back lash as Jeremiah also experienced.

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Jennifer, Jeremiah was given an, on face value, treasonous message to proclaim to a nation of unbelievers. He copped it. Put this into a modern context. In much of the contemporary world Christianity and the proclamation of it, especially publically, is illegal and/or dangerous. Think North Korea, China, Pakistan and other parts of Muslim world. Think also of the disdain for the active proclamation of the Christian message in parts of the Western world. In Australia, probably indifference would be the majority response whilst ridicule and humiliation is probably as far as aggression would go. However, during the same sex marriage plebiscite last year, some of the dialogue became very nasty and angry. Some "No" voters were too scared to make their position known.

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 09 November 2018

    But on a brighter note, I received a letter from SU Victoria. This is an extract from the letter. "This is especially the case for Portarlington SUFM as they respond to a surprising invitation from the caravan park manager… 'It’s great to watch your team interact with the kids, no other children’s program is as successful as yours.  What’s stopping you being here all summer?‘  This question launched an exciting new era of mission for us.  We brainstormed and prayed, and God provided! First a new director, then a cook and slowly, volunteers!  This summer we’ll have two teams running sequential programs. Pray with us that this new opportunity grows our relationships with campers and the impact of our program." In the seaside resort I camped at, the caravan park which hosted the beach mission were very protective of it. "The beach mission is for our caravan park. We don't want other groups coming into the mission!" So there are places where proclaiming remains very welcome.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 09 November 2018

    I once had a Marguerite Patten's cookbook with a Canadian apple loaf with walnuts recipe. Long shot but does anyone have it?

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 09 November 2018

    Thank you all WLrs for your kind comments about the daily hymn. JENNIFER, I agree with previous WLrs replies, that he is suggesting that the gospel is just as shocking and unacceptable in today's culture as Jeremiah's words were. The second part about Christians, I think, refers to churches and Christians that have had a diet of acceptable and comfortable gospel. The true extent of the full gospel is just as shocking to them (and possibly us).

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 09 November 2018

    OAKLEY, I too appreciate your hymn posts. Keep 'em comin!

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 09 November 2018

    OAKLEY I am not familiar with this Hymn I do like the last verse .It is enough for me to know God’s promise and God’s care: wherever on life’s path I go my Saviour will be there. God promised he would never leave me or forsake me and I claimed that promise many years ago He is faithful.

  • Jack Russell | Friday, 09 November 2018

    I can't go into details personally hear but I can affirm speaking Gods word to be costly to health and reputation. Now I tend to use humour and just say to people in church that I am trouble, just in case anyone gets the wrong idea and might think I am, like, nice or something 😉

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