1 And king Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, reigned instead of Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. 2 But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, listened to the words of the LORD that he spoke by the prophet Jeremiah. 3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now to the LORD our God for us. 4 Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not yet put him into prison. 5 Then Pharaoh's army came out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
- Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
- Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
God is our best help
6 Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7 The LORD, the God of Israel says, Say this to the king of Judah, that sent you to me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which has come out to help you, will return to Egypt into their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans will come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.
- Psalm 60:11 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
He tells us not to deceive ourselves
9 The Lord says this; Do not deceive yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans will surely depart from us: for they will not depart. 10 For though you had struck down the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.
- God knows the future because He makes the future.
- If we do not know or believe God’s word we are deceiving ourselves.
- All this trouble came because they followed false gods.
- God is jealous because of His great love for us.
- He loves each person He made enough that He died for them.
- There is no greater love.
- Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love.
- John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
- John 17:17 Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
11 And when the army of the Chaldeans lifted the seige from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, 12 Then Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself there in the midst of the people. 13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, You are defecting to the Chaldeans. 14 Then Jeremiah said, That’s a lie; I am not going over to the Chaldeans. But he did not listen to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. 15 And the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and beat him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison. 16 When Jeremiah had entered into the dungeon, and into the cells, Jeremiah remained there many days,
- They arrested Jeremiah and accused him of treason.
- Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you, when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
God preserved Jeremiah’s life in desperate times
17 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for he said, you will be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. 18 Moreover Jeremiah said to king Zedekiah, In what way have I offended you or your servants or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where are your prophets now who prophesied to you, saying, The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land? 20 I beg you now, my lord the king, Please let my earnest request be accepted before you that you not cause me to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there. 21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded them to commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and to give him daily a piece of food out of the bakers' street, until all the food in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
- The people had plotted to kill Jeremiah several times.
- Maybe prison was the safest place for him.
- Twice in this chapter we see that Jeremiah didn’t want to be where God had him.
- Yet God kept Jeremiah where He wanted him to be.
- When our circumstances are not desirable then the eyes of our heart must look to the Lord who is life rather than the outward circumstances.
- 2Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all those who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
- John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
The Lord wants to save us
1 Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, 2 The Lord says this: He that remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goes out to the Chaldeans will live; he will have his life for a prize, and will live. 3 The Lord says, This city will definitely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which will capture it.
- God didn’t want to do this.
- He had warned the people for generations.
- They didn’t keep His Sabbaths of rest for the land and therefore He had to.
- He is just and He keeps His word.
- This was their choice, not His.
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
4 Therefore the princes said to the king, We beg you, let this man be put to death: for he weakens the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
- The truth was that Jeremiah and God were the only ones seeking the welfare of the people, the eternal welfare as well as the temporal.
- ‘They chose false gods and war was in the gate’—Judges 5:8.
- False gods were leading the people and their children straight to eternal damnation, while heaven was free to all because God was going to send His own Son to die for man’s sin.
5 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: the king cannot do anything against you. 6 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah, the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let Jeremiah down with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
- John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
- Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.
7 Now when Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; 8 Ebed-melech went out of the king's house, and spoke to the king, saying, 9 My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he will die of hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more food in the city. 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from here thirty men with you, and take Jeremiah the prophet up out of the dungeon, before he dies. 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old worn out clothes and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. 12 And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, Now put these old worn out clothes and rotten rags under your armpits under the cords. And Jeremiah did it. 13 So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
- Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet on a rock, and established my goings.
The Lord lives eternally; He made our souls
14 Then King Zedekiah sent and took Jeremiah the prophet to him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD: and the king said to Jeremiah, I will ask you something; hide nothing from me. 15 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice you will not listen to me. 16 So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD lives, that made us this soul, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men that seek your life.
- Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
He places before us the choice of life and death
17 Then said Jeremiah to Zedekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If you will assuredly go out to the king of Babylon's princes, then your soul will live, and this city will not be burned with fire; and you will live, and your house: 18 But if you will not go out to the king of Babylon's princes, then this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they will burn it with fire, and you will not escape out of their hand. 19 And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that have fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they torture me. 20 But Jeremiah said, They will not deliver you. I beg you, obey the voice of the LORD that I speak to you: so it will be well to you, and your soul will live.
- The Garden of Eden had the same two choices.
- If man ate from the Tree of Life, he would live. If he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil he would die.
- The use of the term ‘God of hosts’ is fascinating used in this context.
- God is saying by using it, that the vast armies of the angels of heaven worship Him as the true and only God (Psalm 96:5).
- Yet these Jews worship false deities and have brought on the city this catastrophe.
- An army of mere humans was camped outside the walls of the city and yet the God who is offering them the choice of life or death controls and is worshipped by countless armies of beings much mightier.
21 But if you refuse to go out, this is the word that the LORD has showed me: 22 Behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house will be brought out to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women will say, Your friends have misled you and overpowered you: while your feet are sunk in the mire they turned back. 23 They will bring out all your wives and your children to the Chaldeans: and you will not escape out of their hand, but will be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and you will cause this city to be burned with fire.
- The Lord shows His word to all who will listen.
- 33 times the Bible contains the commands, Hear the word of the Lord!
- Zedekiah was the leader.
- The people would follow him.
- Though the princes wanted to stay and fight, God promised they would live if they would surrender to the Chaldean army.
- Hearts must listen to God’s words to know His will.
- 1Samuel 2:30 the LORD God of Israel says, I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me forever: but now the LORD says, Far be it from me; for those that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me will be lightly esteemed.
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and you will not die. 25 But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you, and say to you, Tell us now what you have said to the king, do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death; and what the king said to you: 26 Then say to them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there. 27 Then all the princes came to Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they ceased speaking with him; and the matter was not perceived. 28 So Jeremiah stayed in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was captured: and he was there when Jerusalem was captured.
- God protects His own.
- He is our shield.
- Zechariah 2:5 For I, says the LORD, will be to her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
- Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.
God judges when we refuse to listen to Him
1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army came against Jerusalem, and they besieged it. 2 And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up. 3 And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, and Rabmag, with all the remainder of the princes of the king of Babylon. 4 And when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate between the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. 5 But the Chaldeans' army chased them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.
- God’s first warning of this came to Israel in BC 1451.
- This happened in BC 590. God had warned them for 861 years.
- 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.
- Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12.And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13.And the sea gave up the dead in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14.And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15.And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
6 Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon killed all the nobles of Judah. 7 He then put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with two bronze chains, to carry him to Babylon. 8 And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, sent to Babylon the remnant of the population as well as those who had defected to him.
- Don’t feel sorry for these people. They were horrible human beings who sacrificed of their children on the altars to pagan gods (demons).
- Their whole style of life was leading the human race to eternal death.
- They could still return to God and be blessed.
- When our hearts depart from God, evil carries us away captive.
- Babylon is the symbol of religious evil in scripture.
- We must be careful not to make religion a God.
- We must worship God alone, not a system of doing this or that religious activity.
- Even service to God can become our god.
The Lord preserved a remnant and gave another chance
10 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people who had nothing in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. 11 Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 Take him, treat him well, and do him no harm; but do to him what he asks. 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes. 14 They sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to take him home: so he lived among the people.
- Being left in the land was a blessing for these people.
- They had been taxed to death and had their property confiscated.
- Their leaders had abused every authority rather than leading the people in right paths.
- God gave them another chance.
- Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
The Lord delivers those who trust in Him
15 Now the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 16 Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel says this; Behold, I will bring my words on this city for evil, and not for good; and they will be accomplished in that day before you. 17 But I will deliver you in that day, says the LORD: and you will not be given into the hand of the men whom you fear. 18 For I will definitely deliver you, and you will not fall by the sword, but your life will be for a prize to you: because you have put your trust in me, says the LORD.
- Ebed-melech rescued Jeremiah in Jeremiah 38:7+
- Matthew 26:53 Do you think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he will presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
- Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and do not lean unto your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
God does what He says
1 Then word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after Nebuzaradan, the chief executioner, had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains/manacles among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon. 2 And the captain of the guard/chief executioner took Jeremiah, and said to him, The LORD your God has pronounced this evil on this place. 3 Now the LORD has brought it, and done what he said: because you have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing has come on you.
- The Babylonian, captain of the guard, chief executioner said these words.
- Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
4 And now, behold, I set you free today from the chains that were on your hand. If it seems good to you to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look after you: but if it seems evil to you to come with me into Babylon, stay: behold, all the land is before you: go wherever it seems good and right for to you go.
- Psalm 37:25-26 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
5 Now while he had not yet gone back, he said, Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wherever it seems right to you to go. So the captain of the guard gave him food and a reward, and let him go.
- Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm will rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
- Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
God allowed some of the people to remain in the land though His nation was in exile
6 Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam at Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land. 7 Now when all the captains of the army that were in the fields, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, governor in the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and the poor of the land, those that were not carried away captive to Babylon; 8 then they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, even Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, Johanan, and Jonathan, the sons of Kareah, Seraiah, the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai, the Netophathite, and Jezaniah, the son of a Maachathite, they and their men. 9 And Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, swore to them and to their men, saying, Do not fear to serve the Chaldeans: live in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you.
- Those who had been oppressed by the evil leaders were given one more chance after the last chance had passed.
- This is true for each one of us today.
- No matter the circumstances of our lives, no matter what everyone else is doing, we can still dwell in ‘the land’ that God has designed just for us, if we will believe the things He has said to us.
10 As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah to serve the Chaldeans, which will come to us: but you gather yourselves wine, summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your storage vessels, and live in your cities that you have taken. 11 Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan; 12 then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and gathered very much wine and summer fruits.
- God provided for them abundantly. This was a time of blessing and joy after years of great oppression. His love is better than wine.
- Philippians 4:19 But my God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
- Song of Solomon 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for your love is better than wine.
13 Now Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, 14 and said to him, Are you well aware that Baalis, the king of the Ammonites, has sent Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, to kill you? But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, did not believe them. 15 Then Johanan, the son of Kareah, spoke to Gedaliah secretly in Mizpah, saying, Please let me go and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man will know it: why should he kill you, that all the Jews which have gathered to you should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? 16 But Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, said to Johanan the son of Kareah, You will not do this thing: for you speak falsely of Ishmael.
- Ishmael son of Nethaniah was heir to the throne that Gedaliah sat on.
- He was of the royal seed (2Kings 25:25).
- Gedaliah didn’t ask God.
- Remember that God compared those that stayed behind in Jerusalem to figs so bad they could not be eaten (Jeremiah 24:3-8).
- Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and do not lean to your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
SUMMARY: Jeremiah 37-40
- God is our best help
- He tells us not to deceive ourselves
- God preserved Jeremiah’s life in desperate times
- The Lord wants to save us
- The Lord lives eternally; He made our souls
- He places before us the choice of life and death
- God judges when we refuse to listen to Him
- The Lord preserved a remnant and gave another chance
- The Lord delivers those who trust in Him
- God does what He says
- God allowed some of the people to remain in the land though His nation was in exile