“People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’” Jeremiah 22:8-9
What’s Going On?
As Nebuchadnezzar gets closer and closer to conquering Jerusalem, Jeremiah advises them all, including the king, to surrender and not fight because it is the Lord’s will that Judah fall to Babylon as punishment for turning away from Him and anyone who rebels will be killed in battle. The ones who surrender will be taken away into exile, but they will live. The Lord, through Jeremiah, tells them to settle in Babylon until He is ready to bring them out. God will begin to change their hearts and eventually God will restore them. Jeremiah is beaten, arrested, persecuted, imprisoned, thrown into a cistern/well, and repeatedly rejected. No wonder they call him the “weeping prophet.” And yet, this section also contains one of the most loved verses: “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Chapter 39 gives the only eyewitness account of the Fall of Jerusalem, recorded by Jeremiah.
When and Where Are We?
Be ready for some more time jumps! Jeremiah will be a prophet during the reigns of Kings Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah and also during the early years of the Babylonian exile when there is no longer a king in Judah. Almost every chapter starts off by telling you who is king – and it’s all mixed up and not in chronological order. Just don’t let it throw you. The message is valid and consistent. While this part of the story is still mainly in Jerusalem, there are also some references to both Babylon (north) and Egypt (south) and both of these areas will be very important next week.
We need to back up a little and look at the family of Josiah (the last good king in Judah). When he died his son Johoahaz ruled for only three months before he was put in chanins and taken to Egypt and his brother, Jehoiakim became king. Next, Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin followed him but he surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar and was carried away as a prisoner. So his uncle, Zedekiah – Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim’s brother – also the son of Josiah, became “king” over all the people who were left in Jerusalem after most were carried away into Babylonian exile. Just to make it a little more confusing, Jehoahaz is also known as Shallum; Jehoiakim’s name was Eliakim, changed by Pharoah Neco whom he served; Zedekiah is also called Mattinaiah and Jehoiachin is also called Jeconiah.
- Pashhur – priest and chief officer in the Temple who was likely responsible for punishment of “criminals” (there may be more than one Pashhur or it may be a title)
- Zephaniah the Priest – not the same as Zephaniah the prophet
- Nebuchadnezzar – King of Babylon
- Hananiah and Shemaiah – flase prophets
- Hanamel – Jeremiah’s cousin, the son of Shallum/Jehoahaz
- Baruch – Jeremiah’s secretary (and most likely to have written at least some of the book)
- Racabites – a nomad group that DID obey the Lord making Judah look bad, not mentioned elsewhere
- Gedaliah – son of Passhur – acts as governor of Jerusalem after Zedekiah is taken away
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NIV)
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Jeremiah 20-22
- Tuesday: Jeremiah 23-25
- Wednesday: Jeremiah 26-28
- Thursday: Jeremiah 29-32
- Friday: Jeremiah 33-36
- Saturday: Jeremiah 37-39