Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 21-22 The Message to Judah’s Kings

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troubled

Do you have a family member, or friend, that the only time they seem to know where you live is when they need something from you?  How do you handle a situation like that?  How does it make you feel?  Sometimes, people treat God in the very same manner; they only turn to God when they are in trouble,  need His help, and seek His message.

Jeremiah 21:1-14Jeremiah 21:1-14
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

21 1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, saying, 2 Enquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us. 3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah: 4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. 5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. 6 And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence. 7 And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy. 8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. 9 He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. 10 For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 11 And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the LORD; 12 O house of David, thus saith the LORD; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Execute: Heb. Judge 13 Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the LORD; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations? inhabitant: Heb. inhabitress 14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it. punish: Heb. visit upon  

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1 The LORD spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, 2 “Please speak to the LORD for us and ask him to help us.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking Judah.  Perhaps the LORD will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past.  Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”
3 Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, 4 ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:  I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside your walls attacking you.  In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city.  5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry.  You have made me furious!  6 I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die.  7 And after all that, says the LORD, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine.  I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies.  He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’
8 “Tell all the people, ‘This is what the LORD says:  Take your choice of life or death!  9 Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live.  Their reward will be life!  10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the LORD.  It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’
11 “Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD!  12 This is what the LORD says to the dynasty of David:
“‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge!
Help those who have been robbed;
rescue them from their oppressors.
Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
13 I will personally fight against the people in Jerusalem,
that mighty fortress –
the people who boast, “No one can touch us here.
No one can break in here.”
14 And I myself will punish you for your sinfulness,
says the LORD.
I will light a fire in your forests
that will burn up everything around you.'”

The historical aspect of these passages is intense when you begin to separate each king and dates of reign, and what occurred to each prophet during the reign of different kings.  In this study though, there are two important historical points that will be given attention to.  It is important to note that there is approximately a 18-20 year span between chapter 20 and chapter 21.  Secondly, Pashhur in chapter 21 is not the same Passhur as in chapter 20.  One is the son of Malkijah, and the other is the son of Immer.

Jerusalem

A lot has happened during this time, most of which fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecies up to this time.  Jeremiah had foretold of Jerusalem’s destruction, but the leaders had rebuked his word and scorned his proclamations.  If you remember chapter 20, we saw Jeremiah in great distress.  In chapter 21, we see a different picture.  Jeremiah is being honored with a visit from the king.  He is being begged to speak to the LORD on their behalf.  The king was counting on an assurance for another rescue from destruction, but what he got instead was a word of judgment.  Not only is God NOT going to protect them from the Babylonians, He is personally going to wage war, famine, and disease on them!  True, they turned to God for help, but it was an empty attempt.  They still could not bring themselves to acknowledge God’s warnings or admit their sin.  When things in our life are going good, we sometimes forget all about God…until something goes wrong.  Then we see people calling out to God for His help, or asking Him why He would let something, that we interpret to be bad, happen.  This is not the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us; a hit or miss deal.  He wants a loving, trusting, on-going relationship with all of His children.
Even in God’s anger, He still gave the people an opportunity to correct their situation:  ‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge; help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors’.  But the people of Judah were deceived into believing that they would be safe from intruders because their city was built on a plateau with a valley running on three sides of the city.  This was a false security.  Do we deceive ourselves by getting comfortable in our life?  Are we acknowledging God’s commands?  Do we recognize our sins and repent?  We are all sinners in the eyes of God.

Romans 3:9-10Romans 3:9-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; proved: Gr. charged 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  

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9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others?  No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.
10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous –
not even one.

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king

Have you ever felt that someone has used you for their own personal gain?  People who step on others, without disregard, to get what they want in life appear to be arrogant, prideful, and above all others.  How do you deal with someone like that?  What course of action do you take?

Jeremiah 22:1-9Jeremiah 22:1-9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

22 1 Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates: 3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. upon...: Heb. for David upon his throne 5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation. 6 For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited. 7 And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. 8 And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city? 9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.  

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1 This is what the LORD said to me:  “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah.  Say to him, 2 ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne.  Let your attendants and your people listen, too.  3 This is what the LORD says:  Be fair-minded and just.  Do what is right!  Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors.  Quit your evil deeds!  Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows.  Stop murdering the innocent!  4 If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem.  The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects.  5 But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the LORD, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.'”
6 Now this is what the LORD says concerning Judah’s royal palace:
“I love you as much as fruitful Gilead
and the green forests of Lebanon.
But I will turn you into a desert,
with no one living within your walls.
7 I will call for wreckers,
who will bring out their tools to dismantle you.
They will tear out all your fine cedar beams
and throw them on the fire.
8 “People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city, and say to one another, ‘Why did the LORD destroy such a great city?’  9 And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the LORD their God by worshiping other gods.'”

[Note that the next four chapters (22-25) may be out of chronological order.  In chapter 21:8-10, God is implying that it was too late to repent, but 22:4, God is offering a chance to change.]

kings

Jeremiah goes directly to the palace, as directed by God, to give clear instructions to the leaders.  God wanted them to deliver justice, doing what was right; and to be helpers of the less fortunate instead of mistreating and murdering them.  The King is given an option to either follow God’s instruction which guarantees his royal power, or continue on with his current conduct and be destroyed.  The King’s decision will decide the fate of the entire social system.

Verses 10-30 are messages to the sons of King Josiah.  King Josiah, one of the great kings of Judah, died at the battle of Megiddo.  You can read more on this in 2 Kings 23:292 Kings 23:29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

29 In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.  

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Jeremiah 22:10-12Jeremiah 22:10-12
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. 11 For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more: 12 But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.  

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Message about Shallum, also called Jehoahaz, the first king to suceed Josiah.

10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss.
Instead, weep for the captive king being led away!
For he will never return to see his native land again.
11 For this is what the LORD says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive:  “He will never return.  12 He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.

Jehoahaz reigned for only three short months before he was exiled to Egypt by Pharaoh Neco.  He would never return, and would end up being the first king to die in exile.

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child

As a parent, we do our very best to raise our children with morals, values, and a strong foundation of faith in God, in hopes that they will someday be socially acceptable, and carry on the family name.  But, what happens when a child goes rogue and ventures on to become someone that we don’t even recognize as our own child?  Unfortunately, to a parent’s dismay, this does happen and there is not much we can do about it; our hands are tied.

Jeremiah 22:13-23Jeremiah 22:13-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; 14 That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. large: Heb. through-aired windows: or, my windows 15 Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD. 17 But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it. violence: or, incursion 18 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! 19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed. 21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. prosperity: Heb. prosperities 22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. 23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail! inhabitant: Heb. inhabitress  

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This is a message about Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, the second king to follow Josiah.

13 And the LORD says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim,
who builds his palace with forced labor.
He builds injustice into its walls,
for he makes his neighbors work for nothing.
He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace
with huge rooms and many windows.
I will panel it throughout the fragrant cedar
and paint it a lovely red.’
15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
says the LORD.
17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty!
You murder the innocent,
oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18 Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:
“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another,
‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
His subjects will not mourn for him, crying,
‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19 He will be buried like a dead donkey –
dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon.
Shout for them in Bashan.
Search for them in the regions east of the river.
See, they are all destroyed.
Not one is left to help you.
21 I warned you when you were prosperous,
but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’
You have been that way since childhood –
you simply will not obey me!
22 And now the wind will blow away your allies.
All your friends will be taken away as captives.
Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23 It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace
paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon,
but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish
anguish like that of a woman in labor.

Jehoiakim was more worried about having the best of the best; appearances, rather than obeying God.  He was definitely not following in his father’s footsteps of faithfulness, and would be punished for that choice.  God points out that Jehoiakim had refused warnings, but to no surprise; he had been stubborn since childhood.  He had become so comfortable in his prosperity, that he didn’t have time for God.  Does that ever happen to you?  Do you ever find yourself so busy with life that you forget all about God?  When we find this happening in our lives, we must evaluate what is more important to us:  the comforts of this life or a close and lasting relationship with God.
We see God making a comparison between Jehoiakim and his father.  Josiah was just and righteous, but Jehoiakim had become greedy and dishonest, and taking advantage of all he knew.  He was a ruthless ruler, responsible for the deaths of many innocent people, and never offered opportunity to the poor.  He will be disgraced in his death, being treated as a donkey would be, with no funeral or lament.
When I read verses 21-23, I can’t help but to think of America, and the state the nation is in at this moment.  We are certainly seeing a turn of a nation before our generation’s eyes.

Jeremiah 24-30

A message for Jehoiachin, also known as Coniah and Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, who became the third king after Josiah.

24 “As surely as I live, ” says the LORD, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah.  Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off.  25 I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear – to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army.  26 I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land.  27 You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28 “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar?
Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29 O earth, earth, earth!
Listen to this message from the LORD!
30 This is what the LORD says:
‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless.
He is a failure,
for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David
to rule over Judah.’

Jehoiachin had inherited his father’s corrupt politics, and made no effort to change this during his reign.  God compared him to a signet ring, which was extremely valuable because a king used it to authenticate important documents.  Regardless of its importance, God would remove it from His right hand because it had lost its value and usefulness.  Jehoiachin’s sins had brought him to this point, and the end of this relationship would be the end of the royal line.  Jehoiachin would be exiled, and with no one to take the throne, the land would be forfeited and consequently, would end the house of David.
It doesn’t matter what kind of family that we are raised in.  Many say that we are all victims of circumstance, but at some point in our lives, we come to an age where we become responsible for our own choice.  There is a time in everyone’s life that they will have to choose between accepting God as their creator and secure their eternal future, or continuing to live their life in sin only worrying about what this earthly life can give them.  What choice have you made; will you make?

 

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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