Calamity is Inevitable

Jeremiah 21 SCC 1/22/17


The opposition of Pashhur (20:1-6) is a pivot point in the book. Jeremiah had denounced Judah’s sin, threatened judgment, and offered hope if the people would repent. Though opposition had surfaced (11:18-23; 12:6; 15:10; 17:18; 18:19-23), he had not suffered any physical persecution. With the recording of Pashhur’s response, however, Jeremiah’s book took on a more personal note. His prophecies were now directed against specific individuals and groups, and Judah’s hope of repentance was replaced with the certainty of God’s judgment.



21:1-2 Zedekiah a son of King Josiah was appointed king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He was 21 years old when made king and reigned 11 years. He was evil in the sight of God and rebelled against Babylon. We note the Babylonians slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7). Pashhur the son of Malchijah was one of the king’s officials. Later he petitioned the king to execute Jeremiah for treason (38:1-4). Zephaniah the priest succeeded Jehoiada (29:25- 26) second in rank to the high priest, Seraiah (52:24). Later, after the fall of Jerusalem (52:24-27), Zephaniah was executed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Zedekiah sent Pashhur and Zephaniah to ask Jeremiah to ask God to intervene and deal with us according to all His wonderful acts, that the enemy may withdraw from us. This is the first reference to Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah. Zedekiah may have been hoping for a miraculous deliverance. He had precedent for this such as Jehoshaphat experienced from the Moabites, Ammonites (2 Chron. 20). Hezekiah had also experienced supernatural deliverance when Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17-19:37; Isa 36-37).  

NB: Its okay to ask for mercy, the withholding of justice, but there is no guarantee it will come. God does not have to be merciful since its not an attribute but a work of God.

21:3-4 Jeremiah sent a message from the Lord back to the king through his messengers. Jeremiah answered them, thus says the Lord God of Israel instead of rescuing Jerusalem, God would turn her own weapons of war against her. The weapons of the defenders of Jerusalem would be ineffective. The Bab soldiers who were then besieging the city's walls would penetrate it and enter the center of Jerusalem.

21:5-6 The Lord promised that not only the Babylonians but He, too, would fight against the city. God Himself shall war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm. He would bring His strong arm against Jerusalem in anger and would strike down its inhabitants. Normally the Divine Warrior fought for His people, but now He would fight against them. Humans and animals would die from the sword and from diseases, a curse for breaking covenant, from pestilence and famine.

22:7 Nebuchadnezzar would also slay King Zedekiah, his servants, and the people who survived the war and its accompanying horrors. The Babylonian king would show no mercy or compassion. Zedekiah did indeed die in Babylon, some time after the Babylonians killed his sons as he watched, and then blinded him (39:5-7; 52:11; 2 Kings 25:6-7; Ezek. 12:13). Those who survive will be given to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, from whom they would receive no pity or compassion. He will strike them down with the edge of the sword.

NB: No mercy means no mercy. If you get caught up in the justice system, for instance, don’t ever expect mercy. Justice requires punishment. Cant shift justice system to education system. Not purpose.

21:8-10 The prophet also received another message from the Lord. God was going to give the people the choice of living or dying. The choice is stay in the city and die or go out to the Babs and live as a captive in Babylon. God set before you the way of life and the way of death. If the residents of Jerusalem stayed in the city and resisted the enemy, they would die. But if they surrendered to the Babylonians, they would live. The Lord's purpose for the city was firm: He would turn it over to the Babylonian army to destroy it by fire. This was something the people could not change by their actions or their prayers. The response to Jeremiah’s message is in 38:1-4. They seek to put him to death because he was discouraging the men of war from fighting against the Babylonians.



21:11-12 Jeremiah focuses on the sin of the household of the king of Judah three times (v 11, 22:1 and 22:6). Here is the first one. The king did not administer justice and did not uphold the rights of the oppressed. Jeremiah was to tell the king of Judah and his administrators to be careful to dispense justice every day, particularly with the poor and powerless. If they did not, the Lord's wrath would burn against them as an inextinguishable fire Because of the evil of their deeds.

21:13 Therefore, God said, I am against you. The king saw no need to obey God. He felt secure in his well-protected city, so he boasted, who will enter into our habitations? Because of the evil of their deeds God shall punish you. God will kindle a fire of judgment that will not only devour Jerusalem but also all its environs. God was against the people who lived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem stood enthroned on a hilltop, with valleys on three of its sides. It stood on a rocky plateau of sorts. Jerusalem's physical location had led its inhabitants to feel secure.

NB: Pride places you in opposition to God. Pride is artificial inflation. Its taking credit for what you do without regard to God. Its extreme manifestation is arrogance or hubris. So pride creates a conflict with God because it ignores reality, the way things actually are, the truth and creates a false impression that we are in charge.

21:14 Nevertheless, the Lord promised to punish the residents for their evil deeds. He would kindle a fire in its forest. The fire would spread to other buildings in Jerusalem. Not only will the Divine Warrior fight against them, but also their Dwelling Place will destroy their dwelling places! All her surroundings, how much more than the city itself!

22:1-2 God told Jeremiah a second time to go down to the house of the king of Judah. The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the king's palace and deliver a prophetic message to him, his servants, and the people who gathered there.

22:3 Jeremiah instructed the king and his administrators to practice justice in their decisions regarding civil matters. They should protect the weak and vulnerable and should not shed innocent blood. God again gave the king a choice do justice and righteousness deliver the one who is oppressed. Do not mistreat the stranger, the orphan, or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood (child sacrifices to the idols). Social justice is important to God. It’s the responsibility of the state.

22:4-5 If they obeyed, God would perpetuate the reign of David's descendants on Judah's throne with glory and power. If they disobeyed, God swore by Himself to destroy the palace. If they obey God in this, then God will bless the king and the people. If they will not obey these words this house will become a desolation.

21:6-9 Here is the third message to the King. Both Lebanon and Gilead were known for their forests (Judges 9:15; 1 Kgs 4:33; 2Chron 2:8) and the royal palace in Jerusalem was known as the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kgs 7:2-5; Isa 22:8). The Lord regarded the Davidic palace as a most pleasant and glorious thing, like Gilead and Mount Hermon, areas both famous for their forests and mountains. But after God’s judgment, the palace would be as desolate as wilderness v 6. The wood of the palace would be burned in a fire v 7. When other nations saw the destruction, they would ask, “Why has the Lord done thus to this great city?” v 8. The answer, because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed down to other gods and served them v 9. It would become clear to them, on reflection, that it was because the kings and people had broken covenant with God.



1. Don’t presume upon Gods mercy if you deserve justice. Mercy is the setting aside of justice and we need that often from God. But it is not automatic. Willful sin places you in jeopardy to experience the full brunt of the consequences of that sin. Instead of mercy its only judgment.

2. While mercy is the setting aside of justice, it is not the setting aside of consequences. The mercy of God does not eliminate the consequences of the sin—check Judah. Asking for mercy while violating the will of God is what Zedekiah asked for in v 2. It got him nowhere.