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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Zedekiah

          Zedekiah was the last king that the Jewish people of Judah would see as their head.  He was a wicked king who could not be trusted, because He would not obey God’s Word.  His wickedness would cost him and the people of Judah, their homeland, freedom, and their lives due to his ungodly leadership.

          Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became the king of Judah.  He was king for 11 years.  He was considered to be an evil king in God’s eyes, because he rebelled against the king of Babylon.  This was a sin, because God told Zedekiah to obey Nebuchadnezzar, but Zedekiah would not listen and was punished severely (2 Kings 24:18-20).

          God sent the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar and his army laid siege to it.  To lay siege to a city means the enemy army would surround the city so that the people inside could not go in and out of it.  It was designed to make the people inside surrender, because they would start running out of food inside and start to starve.  Remember, the food for a city was normally grown outside of the walls of the city.  So, if the enemy army blocks the people from getting out of the city, they cannot get to their crops to get more food when they need it.  So, the people inside the city must eat what they stored up until it ran out.  However, the food quickly ran out for the children of Israel inside.  Even worse, the Babylonians found a way to break through the walls of Jerusalem so the soldiers could get inside and slaughter the children of Israel.  Somehow, Zedekiah and his army escaped and they started to run away.  However, Nebuchadnezzar’s men caught up with the king and his army.  Zedekiah’s army deserted him.  This allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Zedekiah.  He was taken to a town called Riblah.  Nebuchadnezzar was very cruel toward Zedekiah.  He killed Zedekiah’s sons and made him watch while they died.  He then put out Zedekiah’s eyes and took him prisoner to Babylon (2 Kings 25:3-7).

          The Babylonians did major damage to the city of Jerusalem after conquering it.  Nebuzaradan was Nebuchadnezzar’s general.  King Nebuchadnezzar sent him to Jerusalem to destroy it.  Nebuzaradan set the Temple on fire.  He set Zedekiah’s palace and the houses of the children of Israel on fire throughout the town.  He even destroyed any government buildings in the town.  They even broke down the security walls from around the city of Jerusalem.  He then gathered up the children of Israel and took them captives into Bablyon.  He only left the poorest people back in Jerusalem so they could be farmers for King Nebuchadnezzar.  Even more, the Babylonians took all the treasures from the Temple to make themselves rich back in Babylon.  Last but not least, all of Judah’s army officials were executed so they could not raise an army to fight back against Babylon anymore (2 Kings 25:8-21; Jeremiah 39, 52; 2 Chronicles 36).

         The sad part about the destruction of Jerusalem is that God told them it was going to happen through the prophet, Jeremiah, before the Babylonians came to the town.  He told them that God would punish the children of Israel through the Babylonians.  These Babylonians would come and destroy the city with fire as you know happened.  He would take the king captive, but those children of Israel who surrendered to the Babylonians would live.  Those who surrendered did live and were taken captive into Babylon instead of being slaughtered during the siege (Jeremiah 21).  This shows us what prophecy is.  In the Old Testament times, God would foretell the future.  He foretold what would happen to Jerusalem and it surely happened.  This is because God cannot lie.  If He says something will happen, nothing can stop it.

        Why was God so angry with the children of Israel?  First, He told the children of Israel in His Bible that they would be punished if they became idol worshippers and would not repent (i.e. change) from their sinful lifestyles (Deuteronomy 28; Jeremiah 32, 34, 44).  This punishment was they would be defeated by their enemies and taken away to a foreign land just like what happened in Zedekiah’s story.  So, they brought the punishment on themselves because God tried for hundreds of years to get them to change but they were stubborn by continuing to live in their sinful ways.  So, God had no other choice but to punish them.  Second, God used the prophet, Jeremiah, to forewarn Zedekiah and his people to not fight back against the Babylonians, but to become the servants of them.  However, Zedekiah and his men were still stubborn and would not serve the Babylonians as God told them to do (Jeremiah 27).  Instead of listening to Jeremiah, they locked him in prison (Jeremiah 32, 37).  To Zedekiah’s credit, he did have Jeremiah released (Jeremiah 38).

 

      However, the goodness of God still shines through for those children of Israel that were taken away to Babylon.  God would not leave them in Babylon forever.  They would have to stay there for 70 years and then He would bring them back to their homeland of Judah (Jeremiah 29).  This shows us today that when we do wrong as Christians, God will not stay angry with us long.  That is not His nature or way or thinking (Psalm 30:5).  If we are ready to repent of our sins (i.e. change to living righteous), confess our sins to the Lord, and ask for forgiveness, He will also forgive the Christian who has fallen and be at peace with him or her again (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-10).

 

      In conclusion, we have learned many things. First, we learn that God wants obedience and honesty out of us all.  Zedekiah did not have any of these qualities.  As a result, he brought God’s punishment down upon himself and the Jewish people.  Thus, we must be honest when we give our word as Zedekiah promised to serve Nebuchadnezzar.  Of course, when Zedekiah lied to Nebuchadnezzar, he was also lying to God, because this is what the Lord wanted (2 Chronicles 36).  Otherwise, God can punish us too for our lack of obedience and dishonesty.  Second, we also learn about the mercy of God as He only punished the Jewish people of Judah for 70 years and allowed them to come back to their homeland of Judah from Babylon.  God is merciful to us as well as Christians if we are willing to repent (i.e. change), confess our fault to Him, and ask for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-10).  May God bless and keep you.  The message is yours!

 

 

God’s Plan of Salvation

 

There is so much confusion in the world today regarding what some people preach as God’s plan of salvation.  Some will have one say a prayer similar to the following, “Dear Jesus.  I realize that I am a sinner.  I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior.  Please forgive me now and save me.”  This is commonly called “A Sinner’s Prayer.”  There is only one portion of this type of prayer that is right.  One must accept Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, but a prayer for salvation is not in the Bible.  One cannot pray and receive salvation.

Others preach that one can just believe and he/she is automatically a child of God.  Unfortunately, this method is not mentioned in the Bible as God's way of salvation either.

Even others preach that if an infant is baptized, he/she is saved at that moment.  Well, friend, again, this is a method made up by man and not in the Bible.

Literally studying the Bible, itself, is the only way to get a true and righteous answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?"  This is where it is wise to allow the Word of God to explain itself as much as possible.  Please come with an open mind to this study as it is not meant nor worded to offend.  It is only designed to spread the truth of what God literally says one must do to be saved. 

 

First, we must study the first element of God's plan of salvation, which is to hear His Word as taught in the Bible, itself.  1 Corinthians 1:21 reads, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”  To those disinterested in the things of God, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ is foolishness to them.  It is nonsense.  On the other hand, for those truly seeking God, it is God’s wisdom displayed unto him/her.  Salvation comes through hearing the Word of God.  It does not come through feelings, flashes of great light, an audible Word from Jesus, Himself, a literal appearance from Him, or any other methods people claim to have experienced today.  Instead, God has said salvation comes from preaching.  In fact, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (New King James Version).  This means one must hear the Word of God to be saved.  Again, this is done through preaching! 

 

Second, in order to be saved, Jesus says, “15…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 New King James Version). This verse is showing us one must believe the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. What is that Gospel (i.e. the good news)? Acts 2:22-39 explains it to us and reads:

22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.' 29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call (New King James Version).

 

To say this in a brief manner, in order to be saved, one must believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, rose again to life on the third day, and has been chosen by God the Father to be mankind’s Lord and Christ (i.e. Savior).

How is He the Savior of all mankind who will believe and obey Him? The answer is all mankind, including you and me, have sinned. This means we have all done something worthy of spiritual, eternal death. We are worthy of eternal punishment through our evil deeds (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus volunteered to give His life as a substitute offering so we could be freed from the sentence of eternal, spiritual death (1 John 2:2; Romans 5:9-10). In other words, Jesus’ death was a peacemaking offering, also known as an atonement, with God the Father (Romans 5:11).

If one can believe the death of Jesus was the substitute for the eternal, spiritual death we deserved, then God is able to save him/her. If not, he/she cannot be saved, because there is no other way one can be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 4:12; Titus 1:4). There is no salvation to those who do not become Christians before they die (John 14:6). Believing that Jesus is Lord and Christ is also a conviction that Jesus is the literal Son of God (John 3:16). He was human, but Divine as well.

 

Third, in order to be saved, one must also repent of his/her sins.  Jesus made it quite clear in His preaching that one must repent in order to be pleasing to God the Father.  One example of this command from Jesus is in Mark 1:15, which reads as follows, according to the New King James Version, “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

 

What is repentance?  Orville J. Nave has a great definition of what this word means and is quoted as follows, “A complete reversal of one’s attitude and values, i.e. a turning toward God” (Unger & White, 1996).  This is just another way of saying when one desires to become a Christian, he/she has to make a commitment to live a morally upright life according to the Will of God in the New Testament.

 

Remember, when Jesus died, He brought in the New Testament (which is the New Covenant) and closed the Old Testament (i.e. the Old Covenant).  We are to obey the New Testament for salvation, but use the Old Testament for our learning of principles that have been carried over into the New Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:24, Romans 15:4).  Please also keep in mind, the Father God speaks to us in these last days through His Son-Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3).  His Words, which are the Words of the Father God, are captured in the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew 7:21-23).

What does repentance lead to according to the Bible?  Acts 2:38 shows us and reads as follows, according to the New International Version, “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Remember, repentance is a change of lifestyle from the bad to the good.  Notice, repentance must come before God will forgive us of our sins.  Thus, if one will not commit to leaving a sinful lifestyle behind, then God cannot forgive the person.  Without forgiveness, there is no salvation. 

Fourth, one must confess Jesus Christ to be one’s Lord in order to be saved.  This is shown to us in Romans 10:9-10, according to the New International Version, “9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Italics Added).

 

The Bible gives an example of this confession in Acts 8:37.  Acts 8:36-38 reads as follows, according to the New American Standard 1995 Version:

 

36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ``Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'' 37 And Philip said, ``If you believe with all your heart, you may.'' And he answered and said, ``I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'' 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

 

Friend, as you can see, the saving confession, which acknowledges the fact one has accepted Jesus as his/her Lord, is “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

 

Fifth, in order to be saved, one MUST be baptized in water.  Jesus, again said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 New King James Version).

Notice, Jesus used the word “and” between the words “believes” and “is baptized.”  This means the two concepts are connected and inseparable.  In order to be saved, one must BOTH believe and be baptized according to the teachings of God!  Man may separate the two in his own false teachings, but it is only the Word of God that saves! Water baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions.  If the Bible teaches it, then it is true.  If man teaches otherwise, then he is a liar! 

 

Sixth and finally, the last thing one must do to be saved is to stay faithful to Jesus Christ until he or she dies. This author did not imagine this concept, it is literally written in the Scriptures. Jesus said the following to all Christians, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 New American Standard 1995 Version).

This word “faithful” is accurately defined by the renowned Greek scholar, Joseph Thayer. He defines the original Greek Word “pistos” (Strong’s number 4103) as the following, “Trusty; faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties” (Thayer, 2003).

Thus, to remain faithful to Jesus until death means all Christians are bound to live a life according to what Jesus commanded. That is, we have to continue believing in Him as our Lord and Savior until our earthly deaths (Hebrews 10:39; Matthew 10:32-33).   In addition, we have to live a life morally in accordance to the things He taught us (Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; Luke 6:41-49; James 2:20).

 

In summary, God’s plan of salvation, according to the Bible, is as follows:

  1.  One must hear the Word of God being the offering of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17).

  2. (2) He or she must then believe this Gospel story of salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:24).

  3.  He or she then must repent, which means to live a morally, clean Christian life by abandoning sinful ways (Acts 2:38; Mark 1:14-15).

  4. He or she must also confess Jesus Christ as his or her Lord, which means the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:37).

  5. He or she must be submerged in the watery of grave of baptism for the forgiveness of one’s sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

  6. All Christians must remain faithful to Jesus Christ by continued belief in and obedience to Lord until death (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; James 2:20; Hebrews 10:39).

 

What Are You Going To Do Now?

 

Are you one who has read the Bible and has understood that you may have, unfortunately, been deceived into thinking you were saved, but were not due to being taught false doctrine? Please do not be ashamed. Satan has many false teachers and preachers in this world (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)!  Remember, one of the tools Satan uses to keep us enslaved to sin and headed to eternal punishment is our own pride (1 John 2:16)!  Please do not let pride stop you from becoming a true Christian.  If you are one who thought you were a Christian, but realized you were not taught the truth leading to salvation, then this author begs of you to find a local church of Christ congregation and tell the minister there your dilemma.  Then, allow yourself to be taught the truth (Acts 8:26-39). From there, give yourself to Christ in truth so there will be no doubt of your salvation when the judgment day comes!  Make sure you have yourself baptized at the local congregation to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16)!  Remember, false teachings send us to eternal punishment and not heaven (Matthew 15:13-14; Galatians 1:8-9).  Only the truth will set us free from sin and eternal death (John 8:32).  May God bless you and keep you! This author loves you, but God loves you more (1 John 4:8-11; John 15:13)!

 

REFERENCES

Newell, J. (1991). BAAL. Retrieved June 4, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T607.

Newell, J. (1991a). ASHERAH. Retrieved June 4, 2014 from http://classic.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T500.

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