Jeremiah 39:4-7 And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him. Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.
A guest preacher preached a good sermon at our youth camp years ago. The title was, “you should have listened to the preacher.” The Scripture above is heart breaking when I meditate upon it. Here, we see a man who believed in God. He believed that the preacher heard from the Lord, and had words from the Lord. Multiple times sought an audience with the preacher, because he wanted to know God’s Word and God’s will for his family and country. And yet we see each time, after he hears the preaching and after he hears the instruction, he refuses to apply the truths that the preacher gave him for his life and family. This brings us to the passage above. The city was broken up. He fled. But while he was fleeing thorugh the plain, the Babylonians overtook him, and captured him. They found his sons. And before they even brought him to Babylon, they killed his sons, one by one, before his eyes. And if that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, as soon as they had killed his sons and the nobles, they put out his eyes. Can you imagine having the last thing you ever see, the final picture in your mind, being the death of your children at the hands of a brutal enemy? I can only imagine Zedekiah’s heartbroken thought process as, in chains, he is led, blind, to Babylon – “I should’ve listened to the preacher. I should have listened to the preacher. I should’ve listened to the preacher.”
I don’t know why Zedekiah didn’t listen to the preacher. Maybe he was concerned about what others thought. Maybe he was fearful of how his family might react. Maybe he was comfortable in his lifestyle, and unwilling to change to meet God’s standard of living. It could have been a host of things, and I don’t know exactly, but we know that he refused the counsel and preaching, and it led to his family’s demise. My dad preached as the founding pastor for 25 years here. And we watched many people and many families’ lives destruct because of this very reason. The preacher got up and preached his heart out, and applied God’s Word to what was going on in society today, with warning, and with a passion, and with vision. And yet, for whatever reason, people listen week in and week out, and refuse to apply what they heard in daily life. There are a host of reasons we might not listen to the preacher. Maybe we’d prefer to keep our lifestyle. Maybe we’re concerned with what our family might think. Maybe we don’t apply the principles in our homes because we know we’ll have to make the adjustments in our personal lives. Maybe we’re concerned about friends, neighbors, or fellow church members. I don’t know all the reasons, but I pray today, that when we hear the preaching, we come with the spirit of “it’s me, it’s me, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” I pray that we’d seek to apply the preaching and it’s principles to our lives. For I’d hate to come to a point where, after hearing, and after neglecting, on the long road ahead, the only thought that comes to my mind is “I should have listened to the preacher.”