The storyline which runs from Jeremiah 37 through Jeremiah 39 is all set-up by these verses…
Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. 3 Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.” -Jeremiah 37:1-3
King Zekekiah didn’t “listen” to the words of the Lord, “YET” he still asked Jeremiah and others, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.”
The story continues several times God gave messages to the King through Jeremiah, each time hearing but never truly listening. The king in fact wanted to hear these messages, he kept asking for Jeremiah to be brought to him, “Do you have another message?” But the King though hearing failed to truly listen (do as God instructed).
The spiritual lesson for us is easy and clear, but I will point it out just in case. Just like King Zekekiah many talk to the Lord every day. They pray. They ask God to bless them to guide them. They ask God for answers. But their lives are such that even when God does answer (which He always does) they may hear but they don’t really listen (do what He instructs).
It would be like this, every day a person wakes-up and prays, “God please give me enough energy for this day. Please give me strength and make me productive.” They come to the end of the day and they don’t have energy, they didn’t have strength, they weren’t productive. Then the next day they pray the same prayer, but again they fill like their prayer isn’t answered. They start to question, “Why isn’t God answering my prayer?” But then we look at another part of their day, it turns out that each and every night this individual stays up to the wee hours of the morning playing video games, watching TV, working late. Here is God’s answer to that person,
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” -Psalm 127:2
God did answer in the scriptures He told us to make sure we get enough sleep. Yes there are times this is impossible, but for most it is just bad late night habits. This is obviously an over simplification of what happened in Jeremiah’s day, but the principal is the same.
In this case the answer is get more sleep. If someone read their Bible or even if they listened to the Holy Spirit they would know that, yet they keep praying each day for more energy never getting it. All the while God has answered their prayer, “get more sleep” they just didn’t truly listen.
You see real listening is to also “do.”
King Zedekiah kept hearing from the Lord, but hearing is useless unless we do then what the Lord calls us to do.
One more example. If a person has no money, but they have the ability to work. Yet every day they ask God, “please provide for me, please send me some money.” Yet everyday they are still broke…is God not answering? No. More than likely they just aren’t listening,
“If a man will not work, he shall not eat” -2 Thessalonians 3:10
There are truly some that can’t work, but many can, yet they don’t. What do they do, they pray, “God please answer my prayer I need money, I need food for my table.” God’s already answered…”I provide through the opportunity to work.” Again hearing is not enough we must actually “listen” which means to do that which the Lord has instructed us!
Next Reading: Luke 3 & 4