A New Beginning

 

The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah. He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon. 2 When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, "The Lord your God decreed this disaster for this place. 3 And now the Lord has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him. 4 But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don't come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please." 5 However, before Jeremiah turned to go, Nebuzaradan added, "Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please." Then the commander gave him provisions and a present and let him go.  Jer 40:1-5

Jeremiah the prophet was obviously well known and respected by the Babylonians.  In fact Nebuzaradan, the commander of the imperial guard, seems to know very well Jeremiah’s God and why Judah and Jerusalem were conquered.  Do you think he might have been a believer?  King Nebuchadnezzer himself gave the orders to treat Jeremiah with respect.

Jer 39:11-12 - Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: 12 "Take him and look after him; don't harm him but do for him whatever he asks."

Jeremiah was about 65 years old when Jerusalem was conquered.  As you read the book of Jeremiah you can see what a hard and troubled life Jeremiah endured as God’s prophet among an obstinate and rebellious people.  He was beaten, threatened and imprisoned for the crime of telling the people what God told him to say.  That if they did not repent and turn back to the Living God, they would lose their nation, their freedom and their lives.  Many of his own people wanted Jeremiah executed so that they wouldn’t have to listen to what the Lord was saying through him any more.

When Jeremiah was freed from his chains, he was offered a lot more than just getting out of prison and captivity.  I doubt that the people of Israel had any concept of a substancial retirement for the common people.  But they certainly knew what it meant when the king offered to look after them and to do for them what they might ask.

Do you think Jeremiah considered the possibility of going to Babylon and never again having to endure the abuse of his own people?  To live in a society where he would be honored and respected.  Do you think he considered the possibility of a special allowance and special treatment from the king?  Knowing that all his physical needs would be met abundantly.

If Jeremiah didn’t accept the king’s offer it would mean starting all over in a wrecked city with very minimal resources.  And having to endure the treatment of his own people again.  At least now he could say, “I told you so.  I told you that unless you repented and turned back to the Living God, the Babylonians would come and destroy this city.”

Maybe now some would listen and repent.  I believe the Lord told Jeremiah which way to go.  Remember in -

Jer 40:1- “The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had released him at Ramah.”

Jeremiah chose to go where the Lord directed him.  Jeremiah chose the hard way.  By faith he looked to the Lord and turned away from what the king had offered him.  Jeremiah had a new beginning in a destroyed city and remained faithful to the God he served with all his heart.

God was also dealing with King Nebuchadnezzer.  The first time in Scripture we see Nebuchadnezzer introduced to the true God is when he asked the impossible from his wise men. 

Dan 2:27-28 – “Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.”

And the kings response was: Dan 2:47 -The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery."

Then the king was witnessed to: Dan 3:16-18 -Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Then God stepped in literally. 

The king’s response was: Dan 3:28 –“Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

Jeremiah wrote something about Nebuchadnezzer that seemed strange to me:                        Jer 27:6 – “Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.”

Jer 28:14 –“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will put an iron yoke on the necks of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I will even give him control over the wild animals.'"

My first thought was, “Of course the king would be in control of everything, in every nation that he conquered.”

Then I understood when I read:

 Dan 4:28-34 -All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" 31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.  His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.”

Jeremiah was giving a prophesy of how God was going to deal with the king to humble him.  God humbles our pride to bring us to repentance.  In humiliy King Nebuchadnezzer had a new beginning as a world ruler before Almighty God.  Then I wondered what would have happened if King Nebuchadnezzer had paid attention to God the first time God revealed Himself.

And I also wonder how much different our life would be now if we had listened to God the first time and began walking with Him then with all our heart.

Let me share with you another person’s new beginning.  Theologians believe that the prophet Daniel was between 12 and 15 years old when he was taken captive in Judah by King Nebuchadnezzer’s army.  He was chosen with some other young Israelite boys to serve in the king’s palace.  Now, when a person is enslaved they don’t get a lot of choices.  But from the very beginning Daniel chose to be faithful to the Only God without reguard for the consquences.  Like Joseph, God blessed Daniel’s faithfulness in his captivity.  That doesn’t mean that every thing in Daniel’s life was good and happy.  On the contrary his life was many times very harsh as a captive.  But Daniel went through whatever came and chose to remain faithful to his Creator.

Daniel was a very busy man of high rank in the government, but Scripture tells us that Daniel would kneel and have a devotional time with God three times every day, morning, noon and night.  Even when kings would give direct commands that forbid Daniel’s faithfulness to his God on penalty of death – Daniel would choose to obey God rather than man.

Daniel had a very drastic new beginning at a very young age.  Because he chose to be faithful, God blessed him and used him in miraclious ways.

Our lives are also all about our choices to remain faithful to God.  Our lives are all about new beginnings of coming closer to our God and Saviour Jesus Christ in obedience and trust.  Our calling from God is not to always have victory in our life, but to always have faith.  God does not call us to understand all our circumstances.  He calls us to trust Him and His Word of promise in every circumstance.

Today is your chance for a new beginning in your life.  A new beginning of coming closer to your Heavenly Father and Jesus your Saviour.

We don’t know the final outcome for Nebuchadnezzer, but we know about Jeremiah and Daniel’s place in God’s Kingdom.

What choice are you going to make today?  Right now the choice is yours.

Jer 29:11-13 - “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Are you searching for God with all your heart today?