Learning about God's Plan for Salvation at South Shore Trinity Lutheran Church
Judah has been sent into exile in Babylon and for all intents and purposes that should be the end of the story for God’s people. Other conquered nations had been led off to captivity and never seen again, so a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking the same thing would happen to the nation of Judah. Fortunately, when God makes a promise He always keeps that promise. The nation of Israel may have thrown away the land that God had given them but God’s promise to bless the world through Abraham’s descendants was still in full effect. Israel may have lost its land but God still promised to bring them back to it and to fulfill His Plan of salvation through them.
It should be noted that even while God’s people were in Babylon some of His people remained faithful to Him. This week’s accounts are the stories of 4 men who stayed faithful to the Lord who had always been faithful to them...even through fire.
Jeremiah advises Zedekiah
Jeremiah dashes Zedikiah’s hopes
Jeremiah gives Israel the Lord’s last warning
It’s sad to see how far God’s people can fall. Adam and Eve plunged the world into sin but God promised a Savior. Then humanity continued to fall further from God so He sent a flood but saved humanity and His promise by using Noah and the Ark. God continued His plan through Abraham and his descendants and ultimately God raised His people up out of slavery to give them a great nation of their own. A nation that was prosperous and safe. A nation for which God Himself fought. All that nation had to do was remain faithful to their true King; the Lord of all creation. Unfortunately, God’s people begin to worship other gods and unapologetically broke every one of God’s commands.
As the people of Israel fell further and further away from the One who gave them the land in the first place, more and more of that land is stripped away. First the kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah. Then bits and pieces of the kingdoms were broken away by other nations. After that Israel was led off to captivity by the Assyrians. Which brings us to the kingdom of Judah. Just like Israel they have repeatedly turned away from God and ignored his pleas for them to return. In the end, like a parent who knows tough love is the only thing that will get through to their child, God follows through on what He has said He would do. However, as we read last week, even in exile God’s plan to save the world will continue on.
The Savior will issue in a new covenant
Jeremiah prophecies that His people will return someday and again promises to send the Messiah
The prophet Jeremiah tries to warns Judah and calls them to return to the Lord.
The death of Josiah
Josiah destroys the altars of the false Gods
When we talk about God and His plan of salvation we often confuse God’s patience and repeated calls to repentance with His not caring about sin. Such a conclusion would be a mistake because God hates sin and the consequences of sin are terrible and eternal. That is why God repeatedly tries to call all people back to him. His plan has never been to catch as many people as He can doing wrong and condemn them for it. He certainly gets no joy out of condemning anyone. Instead His plan is to patiently call all people to repent of their sins and to send His Son into the world to die for those sins. If people still prefer to go their own way, God reluctantly will grant them their disastrous wish.
King Josiah, whom we will read about this week, heard God’s patient call to turn away from false gods and he answered that call not just with words but with his actions. Indeed, Josiah is one of the greatest examples of repentance found in the Bible. His family and the rest of Judah on the other hand are another story. As soon as Josiah is dead they go right back to worshiping false gods and doing the things which God had expressly forbidden. Through the prophet Jeremiah, whose warnings we will read this week as well, God continues to call them back just as He did their father but they don’t listen. What they don’t realize is that just because God is very patient, does not mean He will put off punishment forever. Amazingly, even when God threatens judgment, He continues to pledge that He will not forget His people or His promise to send a Savior. A Savior who, as we will see on Sunday, will issue in a new covenant. This new covenant will not rely on Israel’s or our ability to keep it but on God’s faithfulness.
Manasseh and his idolatry denounced by God