Jeremiah 52 Jerusalem Falls And The People Go Into Exile.

Jeremiah 52 Jerusalem Falls And The People Go Into Exile.

Zedekiah rebelled against the LORD, and against the king of Babylon his servant (vv. 1-3). For two years Jerusalem was under siege, and finally it fell in 587, the final wave of captivity (vv. 4-7). Zedekiah was captured in the plains of Jericho and taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah. His sons were killed before his eyes, then his eyes were put out, and he died in prison (vv. 8-11). Nebuzaradan, the king’s captain, burned down the temple and the houses of all the great (vv. 12-13). The walls were also broken down, a small number of the poor were left as vinedressers and farmers (vv. 14-16), but the rest of the people were taken captive to Babylon (vv. 28-30). All the articles of bronze, silver, and gold were taken (vv. 17-23).

2 priests, 3 doorkeepers, a military officer, 7 close associates of the king, and the military scribe, and 60 other men were also taken to the king of Babylon, who put them to death (vv. 24-27). On the other hand, in 560 king Jehoiachin was brought out of prison and ate before the king until his death (vv. 31-34). “The final chapter of Jeremiah is an appendix describing the fall of Jerusalem and reminding the reader that Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled. Despite its message of divine judgment for sin, the Book of Jeremiah ends (like 2 Kings) on a hopeful note by calling  attention to the mercy shown to King Jehoiachin of Judah while in Babylonian exile (52:31-34; cf. 2 Kin. 25:27-30).” (NGSB. 1238)  

Jeremiah 46-51 Judgment On The Nations. Hope For A Remnant.

Jeremiah 46-51 Judgment On The Nations. Hope For A Remnant.

Jeremiah was called to speak a prophetic word not just to Israel and Judah, but to all nations (v. 1) Egypt would fall as predicted (vv. 2ff.). It would be “the Day of the LORD God of hosts, a Day of Vengeance” (v. 10). This vengeance would be executed through the king of Babylon (vv. 13ff.), but it would ultimately be from “the King, the LORD of hosts (v. 18). Judah would go into captivity (v. 19). It was ultimately a judgment on idolatry, no matter where it was found, but especially against those who led his people astray. A remnant of Israel would be saved, and return and find rest. Their punishment would be for correction (vv. 27-28). The LORD would also plunder the Egyptians (Ch. 47), and Moab (48), because it also put its trust in their works and treasures (48:7), and “because he exalted himself against the LORD” (v. 26), in his loftiness, haughtiness, arrogance, and pride (v. 29). Theirs was an unjust wrath, stemming from their idolatry (v. 30ff.). “Moab would be destroyed as a people, because he exalted himself against the LORD (v. 42), but some would become part of the remnant of the saved (v. 47).

Ammon would also be punished (49:1-5), but they too would have a remnant of the saved (v. 6). The old enemy of Edom, descendants of Esau, would also fall because of their unjust wrath on others (vv. 7ff.). So also Damascus (vv. 23-27), Kedar and Hazor (vv. 28-33), and Elam (vv. 34-38). “‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back captives of Elam,’ says the LORD.” (v. 39). Babylon in its turn would also be judged (Ch. 50). Again, it would be because of her idolatry (v. 2). Again, there would be a remnant of Israel who would return and be a part of an everlasting covenant (vv. 4-5). Her shepherds had contributed to her going astray (v. 6), and the nations, in this case Babylon, took advantage of this fact (v. 7), destroying the LORD’s heritage (v. 11). Again, it would be a time of vengeance(vv. 15, 28). Israel was like scattered sheep, because of her idolatry (v. 17). Babylon had become a “land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols (v. 38). None of these nations will be able to withstand the judgment of the LORD of hosts (v. 44). Babylon would be utterly destroyed (Ch. 51).

“For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the LORD of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel (v. 5). The judgment against Babylon, would in particular be a vengeance for the LORD’s temple (v. 11; 50:28). “For every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant” (v. 29). Again, judgment would also come because of her carved images (vv. 17; 47; 52). “The portion of Jacob is not like them, for He is the Maker of all things; and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. The LORD of hosts is His name.” (51:19) A specific word came to Jeremiah, from the LORD, to one Seraiah, the quartermaster during the fourth year of Zedekiah the king of Judah’s reign (51:59). He was informed that all these words were being written in a book, including those against Babylon, which he would see when he returned there (vv. 60-61). Then he must say that the LORD has brought this judgment, was to then tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates, saying that Babylon would sink and not rise (vv. 62-64a). “Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.” (v. 64b)

Jeremiah 44-45 Idolatry, Cursing, And The Surety Of The Word.

Jeremiah 44-45 Idolatry, Cursing, And The Surety Of The Word.

To those who fled to Egypt, the word of the LORD to them through Jeremiah was that they would suffer the same desolation as occurred in Judah because of their idolatry, which was spiritual adultery (vv. 1-3). They did this even though the LORD had sent to them his “servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!’” (v. 4) Three things are here pointed out concerning true prophets. Firstly, they are those who are sent by the LORD, they do not act on their own volition. Secondly, they are his servants, so they do not speak their own words, but the LORD’s. Finally, they are sent out early, meaning before a man plans his day or way, the LORD intends that his word be our guide. The covenant breakers refused to heed the law-word of the covenant, and thus to repent of their idolatry, therefore the curses promised for covenantal violation were coming as warned (v. 5). Their desolation was as a result of the LORD’s anger against them (v. 6).

However, it was not just an evil done against the LORD, it was also an evil done against themselves. They had become slaves to what are not gods, but the figments of the imaginations of men. They exchanged the worship of their living Maker and Redeemer, and bound themselves to dead and useless things (vv. 7-8). They forgot their most recent history, namely the fall of Jerusalem, because of the same idolatry (v. 9). Three things characterized their state. Firstly, they did not humble themselves. Secondly, they did not fear the LORD. Thirdly, and what was the ultimate cause of their downfall, they refused to walk according to the LORD’s law and statutes (v. 10). Therefore the remnant that fled to Egypt, contrary to the word of warning from the LORD, would perish there. They would forever serve as an example of the curse that comes upon those who break their covenantal oath (vv. 11-14). Jeremiah seems to indicate that this came as a result of the men’s wives, probably marrying outside the covenant, and taking on their gods (v. 15).

They could not be any clearer in their response to Jeremiah, and the LORD. “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you!” (v. 16) They actually believed that it was their idolatrous worship that caused them to prosper (vv. 17-18). Then their wives speak, saying that their husbands knew full well what they were doing (v. 19). It sounds like an echo from the garden (Cf. Gen. 3). It is just such idolatry that the word calls abominations, for which they and the land was cursed (vv. 20-22). Again, the reason is clear, they had sinned against the LORD, refusing to obey his word, and to walk according to “His law, in His statutes or in his testimonies” (v. 23). The statutes and testimonies are that legislation found in the word that applies the law to life situations. Thus when people reject the application of God’s law, they actually reject the law itself. They confessed that they made vows to idols that they would keep, and in so doing broke the vow which they had made to the LORD (vv. 24-25).

Their was a contest which they had set up themselves, between their words and the word of the LORD. However the LORD also makes very clear that out of the remnant that fled to Egypt, there would be a remnant of those who would one day return to the land of Judah. The punishment would be the sign that it is the LORD’s word that would prevail (vv. 26-29). The Pharoah of Egypt would be given to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, just as was Zedekiah (v. 31). Again we are told that the way this book came to be was in Baruch being Jeremiah’s scribe (44:1). Evidently Baruch felt sorry for himself, being ostracized as it were (v. 2). Apparently he had hoped for great things for himself, and was thus disappointed. He had to be told that this was the wrong thing to dwell on, that he should frankly be thankful that the LORD had determined to spare his life. The great work was that the LORD was breaking up and uprooting (vv. 3-5).

Jeremiah 40-43 Gedaliah, Jeremiah, And Judgment On The Remnant.

Jeremiah 40-43 Gedaliah, Jeremiah, And Judgment On The Remnant.

The beginning verses here seem incompatible with the treatment that Jeremiah was to receive. J. A. Thompson offers the following as a possible explanation, and yet one more turning point in Jeremiah’s life. “Jeremiah appeared with a group of other captives, all in fetters. There had been some mistake! Nebuchadrezzar (sic) had ordered considerate treatment for Jeremiah and he had been set free earlier (39:11-14). But an embarrassing mistake had been made by the soldiers responsible for rounding up the Jews in Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was brought in chains with the rest of the captives to Ramah. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard promptly set him free. He had come to Jerusalem one month after its fall (cf. 2 K. 25:3, 8) to complete the destruction of the city and to organize the caravan train for the exiles. It was he who had set Jeremiah free on his arrival (39:11-14). Now he had to free him again.” ‘The Book Of Jeremiah’ (NICOT) (651-652)

It is in this historical context that the word of the LORD again comes to Jeremiah (v. 1). Another confusion appears on the surface in verse 2ff. The captain of the guard was only reiterating what Jeremiah had been saying all along, namely the doom to fall on the nation and the city (v. 2). It was in fact a witness to the fulfillment of the words which Jeremiah had delivered from the LORD. We know that he had made the point that a true prophet would be proved by the fulfillment of his/her predictions coming to pass (28). The judgment had come to pass, because they refused to heed the law-word of the covenant (v. 3). He then reiterated to Jeremiah the options of either going to Babylon but without restraints, or to return to dwell with Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the cities of Judah (vv. 4-5). Jeremiah chose to return to dwell with Gedaliah who was in Mizpah (v. 6).

It is no coincidence that Mizpah was the place known for the repentance and faith of covenant renewal (I Sam. 7). We know from 26:24 that Gedaliah, being the son Ahikam, was loyal to Jeremiah, therefore he would be at home with him among the people (Cf. 39:14). We also know that Jeremiah had exercised his right of redemption for inheritance in buying a field from Hanamel, the son of his uncle Shallum, in Anathoth (32:6-12). For Jeremiah this act was a statement of faith on his part. It was more than him just exercising his right of redemption for inheritance. He “charged Baruch before them saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.” For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.’” (32:13-15)

When the leaders who were left in the land of Judah heard that Gedaliah had been made governor, they went to him, and he in turn took an oath that if they served the Chaldeans and the king of Babylon in particular, that all would go well with them (vv. 7-9). He said that he himself would serve the Chaldeans who came to him, but he also gave these men provisions to take back with them (v. 10). “At the moment of judgment, we are given a glimpse of future blessing in the land. Contrast the drought conditions during parts of Jeremiah’s earlier preaching (14:1-6).” (NGSB. 1214) This was a time for the remnant who remained to come and share in the blessings of rest (vv. 11-12). However, one Johanan the son of Kareah warned Gedaliah that Baalis the king of the Ammonites had sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder him, but Gedaliah did not believe him (v. (vv. 13-14). Johanan feared for the remnant who might perish if Gedaliah were murdered (v. 15).

In an appeal to frontier justice, so to speak, Johanan offered to kill Ishmael, but Gedaliah forbade him, because he believed that Johanan was speaking falsely. However, Ishmael was of the royal family, and he was indeed intent on replacing Gedaliah, but he would do so surreptitiously. He returned to Gedaliah with ten men, and they broke bread together (41:1), and then he murdered Gedaliah (v. 2). He also struck down all who were with him, including Chaldean men of war (v. 3). Not only this, but he massacred some 80 men who had come in repentance and faith to the house of God (vv. 4-7), although 10 were spared because they said they had supplies of food with them (v. 8). Ishmael then took all the remnant and set out to return with them to the Ammonites (vv. 9-10). However, Johanan overtook the group and delivered the remnant with whom he returned to Mizpah, but Ishmael escaped with eight men to the Ammonites (vv. 11-15).

Johanan decided that they should all travel toward Egypt, to Chimham near Bethlehem, fearing that when the king of Babylon heard what had happened that he would seek vengeance (vv. 16-18). However, before departing they decided to seek out Jeremiah, for him to petition the LORD on behalf of the remnant, as to what they should do (42:1-3). They committed themselves to accept the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, whether pleasing or displeasing to them (vv. 4-6). This would also involve them in waiting, for it was ten days before the LORD answered them (v. 7). The answer was that if they remained, the LORD would build them up, and not pull them down, plant them and not pluck them up (vv. 8-10). Furthermore, they need not fear the king of Babylon, for the LORD out of mercy would keep them (vv. 11-12). However, if they went to Egypt they would die (vv. 13-17). They would then suffer the covenantal curse that fell on Jerusalem (v. 18).

However, Jeremiah must have known where this was all going, for yet again he was left preaching the same message as before. They were hypocrites for saying that they would obey no matter what, for “it happened when Jeremiah had stopped speaking to all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, all these words, that Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men spoke saying to Jeremiah, ‘You speak falsely!’” (vv. 1-2) Instead they blame Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, for setting him against them. One wonders if in fact it was not Baruch who informed Jeremiah of their real intentions. They did not want what they thought would be death or captivity (v. 3). So they leave for Egypt, and it is interesting to note that the remnant had not only been left with Gedaliah, but with Jeremiah and Baruch also, showing that Jeremiah and Baruch were really his colleagues in his governorship (vv. 4-6).

They also took Jeremiah with them to Tephanhes, for there the LORD spoke to him and told him to take large stones and hide them in the clay in the brick courtyard, then telling the people that the LORD would bring the king of Babylon, his servant, to sit on his throne there, and strike Egypt, delivering some to their appointed death and others to their appointed captivity (vv. 7-11). The houses of the gods of Egypt would be burned, and Nebuchadnezzar would enrich himself with their booty. The whole focus is upon idolatry, that the LORD would “break the sacred pillars of Beth Shemesh” and the houses of the gods, through his servant Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 12-13). This remnant had the opportunity to be numbered among the faithful remnant who would live in captivity, but in rejecting the word of the LORD, which they hypocritically asked for from Jeremiah, they would be sifted further, some dying, and some remaining in captivity.

Jeremiah 39 Jerusalem Falls, But A Remnant Are Spared.

Jeremiah 39 Jerusalem Falls, But A Remnant Are Spared.

These words come in the context of the third and final wave of the exile in 586 B.C. (vv. 1-2). This was the absolutely last opportunity for king Zedekiah to accept the word of the LORD via Jeremiah, to acquiesce and live, or to rebel and die. The princes of the king of Babylon sat by the Middle Gate, gates being the place where judicial cases were heard and a verdict rendered (v. 3). This came as the fulfillment of what Jeremiah had predicted years before (1:15). Seeing this, Zedekiah and his men of war fled (v. 4), “but the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho” (v. 5a). They then took him directly to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon at Riblah who “pronounced judgment on him” (v. 5b). He then had his sons killed before his eyes, as well as “the nobles of Judah” (v. 6), also a fulfillment of the curses on covenantal infidelity (Dt. 28:34). This was the last thing Zedekiah saw before his eyes were put out, and he was bound in bronze chains and taken to Babylon (v. 7). The walls of the city were broken, and it was burned down (v. 8). Most of the people left were taken captive, accept for the poor, whom Nabuzaradan, the captain of the guard left, giving them the fields and vineyards (vv. 9-10).

Nebuchadnezzar commanded Nabuzaradan to spare Jeremiah and to look after him, granting him whatever he requested (vv. 11-12). There is no indication that the king did this for any other reason than the fact that he had been preaching a surrender to him of the king and people. Straight way Jeremiah was taken out of prison and given lodging in the house of one Gedaliah (v. 14a), “so he dwelt among the people” (v. 14b). We are also told that while Jeremiah was in prison that the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah to tell Ebed-Melech that he would be delivered when the fall of the city took place as Jeremiah had predicted. It was because this man put his trust in the LORD, that he went to Zedekiah earlier to inform him of the evil that some of his men had done by putting Jeremiah in a dungeon, in the mire without food or water (38:1-15). He may very well have been one of the poor who were left behind and given fields and vineyards. Thus we see the working out of the covenantal curse on the rebellious, but the blessing of the faithful remnant.

Jeremiah 37-38 Jeremiah In Prison, A Dungeon, And Then Exile.

Jeremiah 37-38 Jeremiah In Prison, A Dungeon, And Then Exile.

In this chapter we are approaching the second wave of captivity, in 597 B.C. (II Kgs. 24:17-18). “These chapters (37:1-39:18) recount Jeremiah’s last warnings before the fall of Jerusalem and his imprisonment for his unpopular message.” (NGSB. 1211) Neither Zedekiah “nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.” (v. 2). However, before his imprisonment, the king sent two servants to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to the LORD God for the nation (vv. 3-4). The Chaldeans had been besieging Jerusalem, but they fled when Egypt arrived on the scene (v. 5). Zedekiah had placed his confidence in Egypt as an ally, but the LORD, speaking through Jeremiah, told the king that Egypt would eventually flee and the Chaldeans would return to take the city and burn it down (vv. 6-8). They should not take any comfort in what might appear as a weakened foe, because it is the sovereign LORD who would grant them the victory (vv. 9-10).

Jeremiah took the opportunity, while the Chaldeans had temporarily retreated, and before he was imprisoned (v. 11), to leave Jerusalem “to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people” (v. 12). As Jeremiah approached the gate of Benjamin, one Irijah, a captain of the guard, seized Jeremiah and accused him of defecting to the Chaldeans (v. 13), which Jeremiah declared was false (v. 14). Nevertheless, he was taken captive to the princes, who were angry with him so that they struck him and threw him in the dungeon of one Jonathan, a scribe, for three days (vv. 15-16). Zedekiah took him out of the dungeon to where he was staying and asked him for any word from the LORD. To which Jeremiah repeated the same message, that the king would “be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon” (v. 17). Furthermore, Jeremiah asked the king why he had been thrown in prison, and where were his other “prophets” now, who told him that the king of Babylon would not come against him (vv. 18-19).

Jeremiah had but one request of the king, which was that he not be returned to the dungeon. So instead the king had him sent to the court of the prison, with instructions that he receive daily bread until the bread in the city was gone (vv. 20-21). Therefore, if the people were to starve to death, then Jeremiah would suffer the same end. Jeremiah’s message remained the same – those who remain in the city would die, but those who went into captivity by the Chaldeans would live (38:2). The king of Babylon would capture the city. This is not what some of the leaders wanted to hear (vv. 1, 4), and Zedekiah the king committed to letting them have their way with Jeremiah (v. 5). They then took Jeremiah and put him a dungeon of one Malchiah, in the court of the prison, and he sank in the mire, with no bread or water (v. 6). However, an Ethiopian officer, one Ebed-Melech spoke to the king concerning this evil, and was granted permission to lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon, which he did with the help of some of his men (vv. 7-13).

Zedekiah agian asked Jeremiah for a word from the LORD, to which Jeremiah complied, but only with a commitment from the king not to kill him or give him to others who would (vv. 14-16). Again the word was the same – if they surrendered to the princes of the king of Babylon they would live, but if they rebelled they would die and the city would be burned (vv. 17-18). Zedekiah feared that if he surrendered that those who went into exile would abuse him, but Jeremiah assured him that the LORD would spare his life (vv. 19-20). The king told Jeremiah not to repeat what he had said to the king, and instead agreed to say to them that he asked the king not to send him to Jonathan’s house to die there (vv. 21-27). “Now Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken. And he was there when Jerusalem was taken.” (v. 28). This would be the final wave to leave Jerusalem in 587-586 B.C. Jeremiah experienced the very thing he had predicted would come to pass, going to Babylon with those who surrendered.

Jeremiah 36 The Scroll Of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 36 The Scroll Of Jeremiah.

In about 605 B.C., the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s first move against Jerusalem, Jeremiah was instructed to write down the words he was receiving and would receive, concerning the nations, and Judah going into captivity (vv. 1-3). To this end he enlisted the services of one Baruch who “wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him” (v. 4). The LORD’s hope for them was that they might repent, that he might then forgive them. The people did not, but it also had the effect of proving that Jeremiah was a true prophet, since what he would go on to predict, would come to pass. Writing it down also served the purpose of it then being available to read, which Jeremiah also instructed Baruch to do in the temple, since he was confined to prison (v. 5), and to do so on the day of fasting, a time when there would be pilgrims visiting from afar (v. 6). Perhaps the people would take the LORD’s words to heart as they made their supplications before him in his house (v. 7). Baruch complied (v. 8).

The next year everyone came once again to the temple during a time of fasting (v. 9), and once again Baruch read from the book of Jeremiah, the words given by the LORD (v. 10). During this reading, one Michaiah went to all the princes who were present, and told them of the words he had heard. They in turn asked him to have Baruch come to them with the scroll, and had Baruch read it to them (vv. 11-15). They looked in fear at one another, and told Baruch that they would tell these words to the king. We are then told how the book came to be written, which lends insight into how Jeremiah and other books in the bible were sometimes written, through a scribe like Baruch – writing down the words that came out of the prophet’s mouth (vv. 16-18). So serious was the matter that the princes instructed Baruch to go into hiding with Jeremiah, letting no one know where they were (v. 19). When the king heard the words from the princes, he had one Jehudi bring and read from the scroll itself.

Since the ninth month was December, the king was seated beside a hearth with a fire (vv. 20-22). Jehudi only read as far as 3 or 4 column in when “the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire” where it was consumed (v. 23). None were afraid at such an act, showing that they were fearful of the king, but not of the LORD (v. 24), although three persons present, Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, tried to dissuade the king from doing such a thing (v. 25). This was in stark contrast with Jehoiakim’s father Josiah, who when he heard the book of the law read, tore his clothes acknowledging the just wrath of the LORD for their not heeding the law-word of the covenant (II Kgs. 22:11-13). Jehoiakim also tried to seize Baruch and Jeremiah, “but the LORD hid them” (v. 26). Then the LORD commanded Jeremiah to have the scroll written again (v. 27). He also commanded him to say to the king that the LORD knew he had burned the scroll, because of what was predicted about the coming of judgment via Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 28-29).

As a result of what Jehoiakim had done, the LORD declared that “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night” (v. 30). Everything predicted in the book would come to pass. The king, his family, and his servants would be punished for their iniquity, for they were warned of the doom coming, but they did not heed the word (v. 31). Baruch would go on to add to the scroll “many similar words” (v. 32). These words also give us a glimpse into what was a part of the canonization of the word, that any new words were ‘similar’, that is, any new words were judged by their harmony with that which came before. There are a number of other lessons here in this chapter for all who read and heed it’s words. Firstly, the LORD’s words of judgment are meant to move people to repent. Secondly, life goes better for those who do repent. Thirdly, those who choose rather to silence the word will themselves be silenced. Finally, the LORD himself has preserved his word through his chosen means.

Jeremiah 35 The Obedient Rechabites And Israel’s Disobedience.

Jeremiah 35 The Obedient Rechabites And Israel’s Disobedience.

Up to this point it does not appear that Jeremiah had many friends. His was a solitary existence. However, the Rechabites were a third party who largely kept to themselves. Normally these nomads would not be found in the city, but the times were tough, so they pitched their tents within the city and kept their flocks outside. They had showed kindness to the fathers in their passage through the wilderness, and so the LORD directs Jeremiah to invite them into a room in the temple where he was to give them wine to drink (vv. 1-2).  “During the years after Moses, these people began worshipping Jehovah. In the time of Elijah (about 850 B.C.) they, like the intrepid prophet, were dismayed with the corruption in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. They took a vow never again to drink wine, nor live in houses, nor plant seed from that time on.” [William J. Petersen, ‘Jeremiah: The Prophet Who Wouldn’t Quit’ (78)]

The LORD wanted to use the Rechabites in an object lesson, since he obviously knew that they had continued to keep the vow of their father not to drink any wine, along with living the life of nomads, sojourners as it were, without houses or vineyards (vv. 3-10). However, out of necessity, due to the advance of Nebuchadnezzar they were forced into the city (11). There was a contrast here between the children of Israel who refused to keep their covenantal vows to the LORD, and the Rechabites who continued to keep the vow they had made to their father (vv. 12-14). “Though the Rechabites weren’t even true sons of Israel, they remained faithful to their promises to God. On the other hand, the true sons of Israel had forgotten their promises to God, and so disaster would soon overtake them. After Jeremiah finished reminding the Jews of impending disaster, he pronounced a blessing on the Rechabites for their faithfulness to God.” (Ibid. 79).

The Rechabites were also an object lesson for Jeremiah, that he was not alone in keeping his vow to the LORD, that the Rechabites had been doing some 250 years. The LORD had also sent his servants, the prophets, calling for the nation to repent of their idolatry and their evil ways, but they did not heed their words, unlike the Rechabites who faithfully kept the vow of their father (vv. 15-16). Since they refused to hear or answer the LORD’s call, the doom he warned them about would come upon them (v. 17). On the other hand, because the Rechabites were faithful in keeping their vow (v. 18), the LORD promised that “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever” (v. 19). The Rechabites inclusion among the people of God shows that even in the old covenant administration ethnic outsiders were included, covenant blessings being based on faithfulness and not ethnic descent.

Jeremiah 34 A Curse Upon The Covenantal Apostates.

Jeremiah 34 A Curse Upon The Covenantal Apostates.

The LORD sent Jeremiah with a word for Zedekiah king of Judah, that even as Nebuchadnezzar closed in on the city of Jerusalem, it would be given to him and he would burn it down (vv. 1-2), and Zedekiah would go into captivity (v. 3). He would not die by the sword, but in peace, and the people in exile would mourn (vv. 4-5). All that remained were the fortified cities, like Jerusalem (vv. 6-7). One reason for this defeat was the breaking of the law-word of the covenant by those who had their fellow Hebrews as slaves, whom they vowed to release, but then they went back on their word (vv. 8-11). In response to this, the LORD’s word came to Jeremiah to remind all of the covenant he made with their fathers that demanded the release of any Hebrew man or woman in the seventh year, but like their fathers they also rebelled (vv. 12-16 Cf. Ex. 21:2; Dt. 15:12-18). Therefore they would receive the “liberty” of the sword, pestilence, famine, and trouble from the kingdoms of the earth (v. 17). Those who passed through the cut halves of the animals in the covenant ceremony, would be cut off from the earth, their bodies being food for birds and beasts (vv. 18-20). Nebuchadnezzar would have a complete victory (vv. 21-22). This is what happens to those who do not keep their vows, and who transgress the law-word of the covenant.

Jeremiah 33 Covenant Renewal.

Jeremiah 33 Covenant Renewal.

While in prison Jeremiah received a second word from the LORD, the first being the previous chapter whereby Jeremiah bought a field knowing the promise of a return from captivity. Here the LORD reminds Jeremiah again that he is the sovereign maker and ruler of the whole of creation, and that he had much more to reveal to him (vv. 1-3). Those remaining in the city would expend there last to seek its defence, but to no avail. However, the promise of a return was a sure as his preservation of the created order, a hearkening back to the covenant renewed with Noah (vv. 4-7). It would come by way of repentance on their part, and forgiveness from the LORD (v. 8). There would then follow joy and thanksgiving that would be known by “all nations of the earth” (v. 9).

The city that was desolate would become a place of joy, based on the mercy of the LORD, who would be praised. Men and women would marry, and shepherds would once again have flocks to attend to (vv. 10-13). The promise of covenantal blessing would be fulfilled (v. 14), ultimately through one who would be of the seed of David called ‘A Branch of righteousness’, who would “execute judgment and righteousness in the earth” (v. 15). Through this ‘Branch of righteousness’ the people would be saved and named after this One as ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (v. 16). Godly rule would be preserved in both church and state (vv. 17-18). Only if the LORD’s covenant with day and night could be broken, could the covenant also be broken which the LORD had made with and through David (vv. 19-21).

The promise which began with Genesis 3:15 and was carried forward through Noah, and Abraham, and Moses would continue with and through David, of an innumerable number of godly seed in the earth (v. 22). From a human standpoint they might appear to be despised and insignificant, but what matters was that the LORD would renew his covenant with them, inclusive of all the promises that had come before. This was a covenant that was as sure as the created order itself, and inclusive of it. They would have godly rulers once again. It is the LORD himself who would cause the captives to return, all because of his mercy toward them. This would find some fulfillment at the end of the predicted captivity of 70 years, but the greater fulfillment would come through the Branch, and the new covenant.