GOD IN ALL OF HIS GLORY
Looking For Help In All The Wrong Places
Jerry A Collins
P Why do we look for help from people and not God?
P What happens to us when we refuse to look to God for help?
P What does God teach us when we refuse His help?
With the possible exception of a short time during the reign of Solomon, Israels history in the Bible consists of perpetual war. The nations wealth and manpower were constantly depleted in senseless battles. Some of these were waged to obtain what God promised, others to discipline Israel for her sin. War was a way of life for the people of God. In the garden of Eden, man declared his independence from God. The antidote for mans thirst for autonomy was the cursed ground, opposition, and the pain of childbirth. This opposition and pain experienced by Israel as part of their warfare is when the nation was either more dependent upon and closer to God or tempted to pursue their autonomy further away from God. Godís purpose is for pain and opposition in life to detract us from our natural inclination to pursue autonomy and depend upon Godís help. We will see that Israel was tempted instead to pursue her autonomy, independence from God. When we pursue independence from God instead of dependence upon God, He leaves us to that which we are trusting in revealing itís inadequacy to deliver us while we live with the consequences. Instead of depending upon God, Godís nation of people rely upon their alliance with Egypt to deliver them. This results in disaster for the nation.
1. WE WILL BE TEMPTED TO PURSUE OUR INDEPENDENCE FROM GOD 1-21
In this chapter we have the tale of two eagles. The first is in 17:3 called a great eagle referring to the nation of Babylon. The second is in 17:7 called another great eagle referring to Egypt. These eagle descriptions are called riddles and parables requiring explanation for their meaning.
A. The first eagle teaches us that God uses pain and opposition to increase our dependence upon Him. Vss 3-6 this great eagle is Nebuchadnezzarís attack on Jerusalem in 597 when he reestablished his control over the city and deposed king Jehoiachin. He carried off this king and nobles vs 12 transplanting them in Babylon. Neb was not totally heartless though. He took some of the seed of the land and left it to sprout like a low, spreading vine. Neb weakened Jerusalem but he did not destroy it at that time vs 5-6. He even set up another King Zedekiah as a vassal king who agreed to a covenant with Neb by an oath of allegiance to him vs 13. Jerusalemís military might was gone but as long as she remained faithful to Neb as God had commanded in Jer 27:12 thru the prophet Jeremiah, her people would continue to live in peace there. Jeremiah told Zedekiah to put his neck under the yoke of Babylon because God said the people would survive if they did son 17:14. God is in control of nations and governments. Today we are to submit to government (Rom 13:1-7), even if it is evil, because God is allowing that government to rule. Itís put there by God. God will punish those governments in His time. Our job as believers is not to form a government or protect the government or participate in the unrighteousness our government legislates but to be Godís witnesses to those around us (Acts 1:8), to make disciples (2 Tim 2:2) and to equip the saints (Eph 4) no matter what kind of government we are subject too. So God set all of this in place and expected Israel to depend upon Him as He had spoken thru His prophets.
B. The second eagle teaches us that pain/opposition can tempt us† to assert our independence from God instead† Vs 7 tells us of another great eagle identified as Egypt and Pharaoh in vs 15 & 17. The vine left to sprout in Israel devised a scheme to break its yoke with Babylon by turning to get help from Egypt to revolt. This nation had influenced Judah to revolt vs 7 & 15. Zedekiah violated his oath to Babylon, one the prophets from God had commanded him to take, and joined forces with Egypt who had a vested interest to remove Babylon from their front door. The reality was that Egypt was only using Judah as a pawn in the international balance of power and could care less about Judah per se vs 17!† Sadly,† Zedekiah† and††† the people broke covenant with Godís command and despised his God-given oath to Neb and says so 5 times: vs 15, 16, 18, 19 and God calls this an unfaithful act against Him vs 20. (Jeremiah 27 gives us the reason why Zedekiah rebelled.) It was because false prophets in Jerusalem had been prophesying that God would break Babylonís bondage within 2 years and free Jerusalem and the people believed them. 3 times in the chapter Jeremiah warns the nation not to believe these false prophets. He reminds them that the test for extra-biblical prophecy was the 100% rule. 100% of the time a prophecy had to come true. If not then the prophet was a false one and put to death. Is the standard any less now? Today we have Godís Word to confirm prophecy. Ezekiel was predicting Zedekiahs revolt and the nations downfall within the same timeframe. So the people would know soon enough who the false prophet and the true prophet was. Unfortunately for them, it would mean disaster when they found out as Ezekiel prophesied† vs 9-10, 16, 18-21. Zedekiah was captured Jer 51:8-11 and the nation exiled vs 27. The last four kings of the 20 of Judah were all bad ones. The first of these only reigned 3 mos then Johoiakim reigned 11 yrs and captured by Neb carried to Babylon. The Jehoiachin was a very bad king who reigned only 3 mos before being deposed by Neb and finally Zedekiah who reigned 11 yrs as a puppet king set up by Neb.
(1) We struggle with God about what is in our best interest. The issue here is who gets to determine that.
(2) Sin begins by doubting that God rules in our interest and that there are unacceptable consequences to disobedience.
(3) It requires an act of our will to put limits on our appetite for autonomy and stop eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (1 Jn 2:16)
(4) Godís solution for curtailing this appetite for autonomy is pain and opposition in our lives. From Godís point of view this produces a healthy rela with Him.
(5) We† must exchange our appetite for autonomy for a life of submission to Godís interests for us and avoid a substantial number of the unacceptable consequences of disobedience.
2. ULTIMATELY OUR INTERESTS WILL BE SERVED DEPENDING UPON GOD† 22-24
Just as in the last chapter it all ends with hope for the future when God provides the security Israel desperately longed for that noone else could supply in the millenium.