In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Thus the Lord said to me: “Make yourself straps and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck.”
To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in like manner: “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. Why will you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the Lord has spoken concerning any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, declares the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.” Jeremiah 27:1-2, 12-15 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12-13 ESV
Linus was in his pajamas and headed for bed when his sister Lucy said, “I thought you were going to study for a history test.” Linus replied that he didn’t have to do that. He was just going to put his history book under his pillow, and during the night the answers for his test would seep up through the pillow and into his head. Linus was very foolish to believe that he could do well on a history test without studying at all. He believed in a lie that someone had told him, or perhaps that he had made up himself. Doing well in school is often hard work, and a shortcut like putting a book under his pillow wouldn’t help him at all. Instead, believing this lie would probably make him do very poorly on the test the next day.
The poor and weak people left in the southern kingdom and their puppet king, Zedekiah, were also believing in foolish lies. There were prophets telling them that they wouldn’t have to serve King Nebuchadnezzar very long, and would soon be free. Believing that God would save them from all their troubles, even after he had been warning them of his judgment for years and years, would cause even more trouble for them. If they fought against the king of Babylon, things would be much worse for them than if they would accept that they were in his power and obey him. The prophet Jeremiah urged them to obey King Nebuchadnezzar and not to fight against him. If they believed the lies of other prophets and fought, Jeremiah warned them that they would suffer from disease and famine and brutal war.
God warns his people that life in this sin-sick world is often difficult, and that people who follow Jesus often suffer from trouble because they are Christians. Sometimes there are people who tell lies, and say that if we obey God and follow his ways, we will never have trouble or sorrow. But this is a foolish lie, and it sometimes makes people feel as if God himself is a liar when they suffer. The Lord never promised that our lives will be completely happy and that we will never have pain, but he does promise that he will always love us and help us and never leave us. Jesus knew sorrow and hurt when he suffered and died on the cross for us, but because of what Jesus did, we can be sure that all our sins are forgiven and that we have God’s love and help, now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior, and for the help you give us when we have problems and sorrows. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Schulz, Charles M. The Complete Peanuts, 1967 to 1968 Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2008.