December 21: Expenses
Jeremiah 39:1–41:18; Romans 9:13–29; Proverbs 24:1–22
It’s important to pause occasionally to reflect on the cost of sin. If we don’t, we can find ourselves living in it without thought of the ramifications. Few passages illustrate the cost of sin more vividly than the fall of Jerusalem recorded in Jer 39. The fall of Jerusalem is brutal, depressing, and sadistic, but we can learn from Jeremiah’s account of the event.
We could view Jeremiah’s depictions as merely historical, or we could recognize the theological lessons they offer: Sin is expensive. Sin will destroy you. Sin will bring a nation to its knees. Sin will leave you begging for mercy. Sin is death. That’s what God’s people learned from this event: Disobeying Yahweh is a costly action. It’s not that God wants His people to endure this pain, but pain is a natural consequence of their decisions. He cannot defend people who refuse to live as beacons of light—of goodness, beauty, and blessing—to the world. If they aren’t willing to live in His image, then He is not willing to be their defender. If Yahweh did not allow for Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem, the people would never learn. And the exile that comes in this moment is also a natural result of their sin.
When we’re faced with the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem, we’re given a choice: Will we listen to the prophets of our age and respond accordingly? Will we hear God when He calls us back to obedience? Or will we continue to live in sin and suffer the consequences?
As a side effect of the grace that God has given us in Jesus, many people assume that sin is somehow okay—that it’s okay to allow it to exist. God’s response is the opposite. The grace is unmerited, and we must respond with the only merited response: complete dedication and obedience to Him. We must see the death of sin and deny it.
What sin is currently present in your life? What do you need to repent from? Have you asked God to direct you in this?
JOHN D. BARRY
- In the ninth year of Zedekiah King of Judah in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar King of Babel and all his host against Jerusalem, and they beseiged it. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up. And all the princes of the King of Babel cam in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babel. And when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went out of the city by night, through the king’s garden, and by the gate between the two walls, and he went toward the wilderness. But the Chaldean’s host purused after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the desert of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel unto Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him. Then the king of Babel slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babel slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him in chains to carry him to Babel. And the Chaldeans burnt the king’s house, and the houses of the people with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan the chief steward carried away captive into Babel the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that were fled and fallen unto him, with the rest of the people that remained. But Nebuzaradan the chief steward left the poor that had nothing in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel gave charge concerning Jeremiah unto Nebuzaradan the chief steward, saying, Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm, but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee. So Nebuzaradan the chief steward sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergel-Sharezar, Rabmag, and all the Kings of Babel’s princes: Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebed-Melech the black Moor, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good, and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord, and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men whom thou fearest. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee, because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord after that Nebuzaradan the chief steward had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were cararied aay captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babel. And the chief steward took Jeremiah and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this plague upon this place. Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you. And now behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were on thine hands: if it please thee to come with me into Babel, come, and I will look well unto thee: but if it please thee not to come with me into Babel, tarry still: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good, and convenient for thee to go, thither go. For yet he was not returned: therefore he said, Return to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babel hath made governor over all the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people, or go wheresoever it pleaseth thee to go. So the chief steward gave him vittles and a reward, and let him go. Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, to Mizpah, and dwelt there with him among the people that were left in the land. Now when all the captains of the host, which were in the fields, even they and their men heard, that the king of Babel had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and that he had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, that were not carried away captive to Babel, Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan, and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai, the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son ofMaachathi, they and their men. And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan sware unto them, and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babel, and it shall be well with you: As for me, Behold, I will dwell at Mizpah to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but you, gather you wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities, that ye have taken. Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babel had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Even all the Jews returned out of all places where they were driven, and came to the land of Judah to Gedaliah unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits, very much. Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the host, that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, And said unto him, Knowest thou not that Baalis the King of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not. Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it. Wherefore should he kill thee, that all the Jews, which are gathered unto thee, should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael. But in the seventh month came Ishmale the son of Nethanaiah, the son of Elishama of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, and ten men with him, unto Gealiah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah, and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah with these ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him whom the king of Babel had made governor over the land. Ishmael also slew alll the Jews that were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and all the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war. Now the second day that he had slain Gedaliah, and no men knew it, There came men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent and cut, with offerings and incense in their hands to offer in the house of the Lord. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping, as he went: and when he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. And when they came into the midst of the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he and the men that were with him. But ten men were found among them, that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey: so he stayed, and slew them not among their brethren. Now the [pit] wherein Ishmael had cast the dead bodies of the men (whom he had slain because of Gedaliah) is it, which Asa the king had made because of Baasha king of Israel, and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain. Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the King’s daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the chief steward had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites. But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the host that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, Then they all took their men, and went to the Ammonites. Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the host that were with him, all the remnant of the people, whom Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had carried away captive from Mizpah, (after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam) even the strong men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon. And they departed and dwelt in Geruth Chimham, whic his by Bethlehem, to go and to enter into Egypt, Because of the Chaldeans: for they feared them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babel made governor in the land. Jeremiah 39:1–41:18
- As it is written, I have loved Jacob, and have hated Esau. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on him, to whom I will show mercy: and will have compassion on him, on who I have compassion. So then it is not in him that willeth, nor in him thar runneth, but in God that showeth mercy. For the Scripture saith unto Pharoah, For this same purpose have I stirred thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my Name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet complain? for who hath resisted his will? But, O man, who art thou which pleadest against God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay to make of the same lump one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor? What and if God would, to show his wrath, and to make his power known, suffer with long patience the vessels of wrath, prepared to destruction? And that he might declare the riches of his glory upon the vessels of mercy, which he hath prepared unto glory? Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only but also of the Gentiles. As he saith also in Hosea, I will call them, My people, which were not my people: and her, Beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall be in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, that there they shall be called, The children of the living God. Also Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel were as the sand of the sea, yet shall but a remnant be saved. For he will make his account, and gather it into a short sum with righteousness: for the Lord will mae a short count in the earth. And as Isaiah said before, Except the Lord of hosts had left us a seed, we had been made as Sodom, and had been like to Gomorrah. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not righteousness, have attained unto righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel which folllowed the Law of righteousness, could not attain unto Law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the Law: for they have stumbled at the stumbling stone, As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, and a rock to make men fall: and everyone that believeth in him, shall not be ashamed. Romans 9:13–29
- Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart imagineth destruction, and their lips speak mischief. Through wisdom is an house built, and with understanding it is established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong: for a man of understanding increaseth his strength. For with counsel thou shalt enterprise thy war, and in the multitude of them that can give counsel, is health. Wisdom is high to a fool: therefore he cannot open his mouth in the gate. He that imagineth to do evil, men shall call him an author of wickedness. The wicked thought of a fool is sin, and the scorner is an abomination unto men. If thou be fain in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. Deliver them that are drawn to death, and wilt thou not preserve them that are led to be slain? If thou say, Behold, we knew not of it: he that pondereth the hearts, doth not he understand it? and he that keepth thy soul, knoweth he is not? will he not also recompense every man according to his work? My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the honey come, for it is sweet unto thy mouth. So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul if thou find it, and there shall be an end, and thine hope shall not be cut off. Lay no wait, O wicked man, against the house of the righteous, and spoil not his resting place. For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth again: but the wicked fall into mischief. Be thou not glad when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart rejoice when he stumbleth, Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn his wrath from him. Fret not thyself because of the malicious, neither be envious at the wicked. For there shall be none end of plagues to the evil man, the light of the wicked shall be put out. My son, fear the Lord, and the King and meddle not with them that are seditious. For their destruction shall rise suddenly, and who knoweth the ruin of them both? Proverbs 24:1–22