TODAY’S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 38:1-6
TO CHEW ON: "This is what the Lord says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes out to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives: they will live.’" Jeremiah 38: 2
None of us likes to bring unwelcome news. Yet when God told Jeremiah to say things that were opposite of what everyone wanted to hear, he said them even though it got him into big trouble.
It was now about sixteen years after Jehoiachim had burned Jeremiah’s scroll. Jehoiakim had died. Babylon was getting stronger every day. Its king Nebuchadnezzar had made Zedekiah king of Judah. But Nebuchadnezzar really wanted Judah for himself. When he came with his army and surrounded Jerusalem, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah if God had any message for him.
“Yes,” Jeremiah told him, “the Babylonian army will capture the city and burn it down.”
Zedekiah and his officials didn’t like the sound of that, so they put Jeremiah in prison. But he had more to say. “Give yourselves up to the Babylonian army,” he told everyone who came to see him. “If you stay in this city, you’ll die.”
Jeremiah’s words enraged Zedekiah’s officials. “He’s discouraging our soldiers!” they told Zedekiah.
“Do whatever you want with him,” Zedekiah said.
So they took Jeremiah from his prison cell and lowered him into a cistern.
It held no water but the bottom of it was soft with cold, sticky mud. As Jeremiah sank deep into the mud he wondered, would this be the place he would die.
It’s hard to imagine having Jeremiah’s courage. But there are many people today in places around the world who are just as brave. In some countries, the good news about Jesus is the unwelcome news. People who love Jesus live for Him anyway. They read their Bibles, meet to pray, sing, and learn more about God. Then they go out and tell others about Jesus, even though it’s against the law. Sometimes that gets them put in prison, tortured, even killed.
Let’s pray that if the news about Jesus becomes unwelcome news where we live, we will be as brave as Jeremiah and the persecuted Christians alive today.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to have the courage to follow You, no matter what the cost. Amen.
MORE: Persecuted Christians
From books or the internet, find stories of Christians who are persecuted for obeying Jesus. Choose one story.
Some web sites for you to check:
Voice of the Martyrs - Persecution.com
Open Doors Ten Top Countries for Persecution
1. On a globe or in an atlas, find the country where your story happened.
2. Using an almanac, encyclopedia or the internet, find out about that country.
3. Pray for the person and the country in your story.
- that the government leaders in that country will find Jesus.
- that God will help the persecuted person and their family to stay strong.
- that the good news of Jesus will be spread in spite of persecution.
- that the persecution will stop so that people in that country will be free to worship Jesus.