We now shift scenes from Babylon, where Ezekiel was, back to Jerusalem, where Nebuchadnezzar had started his siege against Jerusalem.
When he came, Zedekiah panicked, and immediately sent messengers to Jeremiah, asking him to pray for them. This, after years of ignoring Jeremiah’s warnings of judgment. His messengers said,
Inquire now of the Lord for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us (2).
Reading this, I very much get the impression that Zedekiah treated God like a genie. You stick him in a bottle, stashed away somewhere you can ignore him. Then when trouble comes, you pull out the bottle, pop the cork, and expect that the genie will rescue you.
But God is no genie. And basically, he told Zedekiah, “Forget it. I myself am fighting against you. I’m giving you into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, and he will show you no mercy, pity, or compassion (3-7).”
Still, God did offer them one last chance. He told them that they could not escape judgment, but they could escape death. All they had to do was one thing. Trust him. And obey him.
“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life. I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’” (8-10)
In other words, “For once in your lives, believe me. Believe me when I say judgment is inescapable. And trust me. I know it’s scary giving yourselves up and surrendering to your enemies. But if you do, you will be saved.”
He went on to tell king Zedekiah, “Bring justice to your people as you’re supposed to. And put away your pride. It is these things that are bringing judgment upon you.”
But as we will see later, Zedekiah refused to do so. When God refused to be his genie, Zedekiah walked away. As a result, everything came crashing down around him.
How about you? How do you regard God? Do you regard him as your genie, expecting him to perform at the snap of your fingers? Or is he your God? Do you trust him? Do you put your faith in him to the point that you actually obey him?
So many people think that happiness comes from having your own way. They think they’d be happy if only God would do what they wanted. But the truth is we’ll only be happy if we make him our God, trusting him and following him no matter what.
As the old song goes,
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way,
To be happy in Jesus,
Than to trust and obey.