Jeremiah 24 MESSAGE:
Then the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.” v. 4
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU NEED TO MAKE A HARD DECISION and it seems that you don't really have a choice? If you choose option one, you will have to sacrifice and have a great loss. On the other hand, option two is risky and if you'll make one mistake you will lose just the same.
Two kings from the old testament can understand your predicament. They were given only two options and one end up being regarded as a bad fig while the other was as good fig.
What happened? Who are these kings? What are their options?
THE TWO KINGS:
* JEHOIACHIN, son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, became king at the age of eighteen and reigned in Jerusalem for three months. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done.
* ZEDEKIAH, Jehoiachin\'s uncle, was made to be king in place of Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar. He was twenty one years old when he became king and reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done.
THE TWO OPTIONS:
Because of the LORD's anger from their evil ways, the LORD sent Babylon against Judah and Jerusalem. Though they sinned against God, He still loves them and gave them a chance to live. He gave them two options.
In Jeremiah 21:8-9, 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; they will escape with their lives."
* Option1 : To stay in the city and die (the way of death).
* Option 2: To surrender to your enemy (Babylonians) and live (the way of life).
If you were in their shoes, what would you choose? If God has commanded you these things, what will your reactions be?
Imagine yourself to be either of these two kings. Your kingdom is being attacked by a great army of a powerful kingdom. You are given only two options. To surrender and live or to stay and die. You tried to consider both.
If you'll stay and fight, there's no guarantee you'll win. But if you'll win, you will be able to keep your position and possessions and you will also be regarded as a great king and a hero to your people. However, God already said that you will not win but will die. Will you accept and believe what God has said? Or will you think God is undermining your strength and power? Will you go continue to prepare for battle, count your fighting men and continue to believe that you have enough men to defeat the enemy?
Or maybe you believe and not doubt what God says. But are you willing to go out and leave your kingdom, your wealth, and position? Are you willing to give up everything you have and surrender to your enemy? Are you willing to accept defeat and lose your pride?
THE TWO BASKETS OF FIGS
Although both kings did evil in the eyes of the Lord and both deserves to die, one of them chose the way of life.
He was king Jehoiachin. He listened and obeyed God. He surrendered to his enemy and so he and the people with him (the officials, the craftsmen and artisans of Judah) were regarded as good figs. The Lord says, "Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians" (v. 5). He accepted defeat and lose his pride. He let go of all his possessions- left everything he treasured so dear to him and everything he was proud of. He saw their gold and wealth taken away as plunder by the Babylonians. It was painful seeing the thins they worked hard for years being taken away. It was difficult leaving their comfort zone. What he and the people with him did was a total surrender for they only have their own lives to bring with them. However, because of these also, they learned to depend on God alone for their protection and for their joy. When they turn to God, they return to God with all their hearts. No more pride, possessions and position that owned their hearts and hindered them from loving God.
On the contrary, Zedekiah did not listen and obey. He was too obsessed with his possession and did not want to lose his kingdom and his position as king. He depended on his own strength and power. Maybe he though he could win or maybe not. He was on a suicide mission. Maybe he thought it is better to die with his crown still on his head and lie flat -with blood-on his treasures than to surrender and die to his pride. He must have thought that to die is better than losing all he treasured so much in his heart. Zedekiah was foolish and stiff-necked that God considered him as poor figs. He was proud but end up shamed and "became an object of ridicule and cursing; a reproach and byword, an abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth" (v. 9).
We all did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We all deserve to die but still God loves us an does not want us to die and so He let us choose the way of life and the way of death.
If you are already a Christian, will you continue to say in the "sin city" - the place where you did all the detestable things against God, the person you used to be? Will you continue to sin? Will you be like Zedekiah who was stubborn and remained stiff-necked? Are there things you haven't yet surrendered to God? Are you willing to let go of what you are holding on s dearly?
You see, God loves us so much that He has given us a warning so that what happened to Zedekiah and also to Jehoiachin and the entire Judah and Jerusalem will not happened to us.
You, a Christian, are now a king but you are subject to the King of kings. Learn to submit to Him. Do not continue sinning or God will send Babylon (problems, trials, etc.) and hand you over to the enemy and allow the enemy to steal your joy, destroy your wealth and kill you. In heaven, God will give us crowns and we will cast all our crowns at the feet of the Lamb. Here on earth, we must practice and learn to die to our own will, desires and pride (the crowns we are holding on to). Surrender. Obey God even if it will cost you to leave everything you treasured and loved. Make God your treasure and your First love.
If you'll obey God, He promised this, "Because you have obeyed me, I will consider you as good just like these good figs. My eye will watch over you for your good and I will bring you back to your possessions, positions and not only that, I will build you up and not tear you down. I will plant you and not uproot you. I will give you a heart to know me that I am the LORD. You will be my people, my child, and I will be your God for you have return to me with all your heart" (v.4, paraphrase mine).
If you have not yet accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, accept Him today. Place your trust in Him. Accept that you are a sinner and that you deserve to die for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). GOD loves you so much that He has set before you the way of life. He is Jesus Christ. Repent.,surrender and choose Him and you will live.
THE REST OF THE STORY:
Zedekiah was captured and his sons were killed before his eyes. His eyes was put out and he was then taken to Babylon and was put in prison till the day of his death.
Jehoiachin was released from prison on the thirty-seventh year of the exile. He was treated kindly and was given a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings wo were with him in Babylon. He put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table (2 kings 25).
To the King of kings I lay down my crown and give glory!
Your sister through the blood of Christ,
Born on the 8th of November, she is the youngest in the family. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and became a Christian when she was in 1st year college (16 years old). She had dry seasons and even went to the extent of backsliding. She stopped going to church for two years. She was still a baby Christian during that time but the Lord never stop reaching out to her. God used her Bible Study leader, who was also very patient with her and persevered and continued their one-on one study with God\'s Word. God also used her co-major/classmate who is also a Christian, invited her to spend a night in their boarding house for Cell group/Devotional and to go to church. That comaj fellowship to that same church/campus ministry she used to attend. One Sunday, February 5, 2006, she recommit herself to the Lord after a personal encounter with God. Now, she is a worship leader (glory to God alone) and is persevering to stand firm in the faith to the very end, wanting to know God more and more and fall in love with Him deeply.