Jeremiah – submitting to the authorities

This theme of God’s providence is developed further by Jeremiah. He does not just command Judah to recognised Nebuchadnezzar as God’s just punishment. He commands them to recognise him as their new ruler. The very fact that God is allowing Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Judah is proof that God wants him to rule, and so they must obey.

 6 So now I have placed all these lands under the authority of My servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I have even given him the wild animals to serve him.  7 All nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until the time for his own land comes, and then many nations and great kings will enslave him.  8 “As for the nation or kingdom that does not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and does not place its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish by sword, famine, and plague”– this is the LORD’s declaration– “until through him I have destroyed it. 11 But as for the nation that will put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave it in its own land, and that nation will till it and reside in it.” This is the LORD’s declaration.

 12 I [Jeremiah] spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah in the same way: “Put your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, serve him and his people, and live! (Jer 27:6-12)

 Judah were not to fight back. They were not to defend themselves. When God had determined that they would be safe, then enemies simply died at the gate (2 Kings 18-19). When he determined that they would lose, resistance was (as the Vogons say) futile:

 4 ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I will repel the weapons of war in your hands, those you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the wall, and I will bring them into the center of this city. (Jer 21:4)

 In his letter to the exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah reveals that this is not simply sullen non-resistance, it is a true participation in the society.

 7 Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.” (Jer 29:7)

 What is the reasoning for this joyous participation in the nation that destroyed their homes?

10 For this is what the LORD says:  When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place.  11 For I know the plans I have for you”– this is the LORD’s declaration– “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jer 29:10-12)

God’s sovereignty and his plans for future rescue were the strength for the exiles Israelites to live under exile. They did not need to fight for their rights, because the creator of the universe would do that for them in his good time. And he would use another nation – the Persians – to do this.

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