So my bible reading today was Jeremiah 37-39. Most of it is about two people… Jeremiah the prophet and the King of Judah, Zedekiah. Zedekiah is only the king of Judah because the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, allows him to be king. He’s really just a puppet king.
Zedekiah’s an interesting person. At one time he wants to hear God’s word through the prophet concerning the future of the land, but he doesn’t want anyone else to know that he’s seeking this advice from Jeremiah. He’s kind of a closet believer. He’s afraid of what the other leaders would think and what they would do to him since none of them approve of the ministry of Jeremiah or believe the prophetic word. We get a better, bigger picture of his personality when we read verses like these…
“The king questioned him privately…” Jeremiah 37:17 MSG
“Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret…” Jeremiah 38:16 MSG
“I’m afraid of the Judeans…” Jeremiah 38:19 MSG
“Don’t let anyone know of this conversation…” Jeremiah 38:24 MSG
Those words caught my attention and made me start thinking that there are times we’re not much different than Zedekiah. We want to go to church… we want to worship God… we want to hear a good sermon… but our faith has become a private affair. I really don’t want anyone else know where I stand with Jesus. I’m certainly only going to be talking to a select few people, because, as I’ve said, my faith is my private business.
Many of us have grown up being taught we should never discuss income, politics and religion. I don’t know who made that rule up, but it sure seems dumb to me, especially the religion part.
Why wouldn’t we want to talk about the greatest event in the history of mankind? Why wouldn’t we want people to know that they’re unconditionally loved? Why wouldn’t we introduce them to the person who secured their forgiveness and offered them eternal life? Why wouldn’t we shout it from the mountaintops, the valleys, the highways and byways, unless of course, it’s a personal matter… a private concern and we’re afraid of what others might say or do.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t be a Zedekiah. As it turns out, because he kept the words Jeremiah gave him to himself, he watched as the king of Babylon killed all his sons and then all the leaders from Judah. Then Nebuchadnezzar blinded him, chained him up and imprisoned him for the rest of his life. You were created to give God praise. Don’t hold it in and most certainly don’t keep it to yourself. Be a friend… Make a friend…. And Bring a friend to Christ.
Forgive me for the times I’ve kept this precious gift of faith to myself. Help me really love people by telling them what matters most to me – YOU! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.