A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
It Ended Just Like God Said It Would
Jeremiah 52 SCC 9/24/17
This chapter shows that Jeremiah’s words of judgment against Jerusalem had been fulfilled and that his words about Judah’s release from the Exile were about to be fulfilled. So this vindicated the prophet and encouraged the remnant still in captivity. This chapter forms a fitting conclusion to the book, since it records the fulfillment of many of Jeremiah's prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction, the Exile, and the hope of restoration. Time proved Jeremiah right and the false prophets wrong. This epilogue vindicates Jeremiah's ministry. So there are three overarching lessons Jeremiah leaves for his readers:
YOU WILL REAP THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR SINFUL CHOICES
The Capture of Zedekiah Verses 1-11
Zedekiah was 21 when he became king and he reigned 11 years’ v 1. Zedekiah was one of Judah's evil kings, in God's estimation v 2. He rebelled against Babylon. Because God wanted Zedekiah to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah's rebellion was more significantly against God v 3. Consequently, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem with his army in 588 B.C. v 4-5. After 18 months of siege, the food ran out, and there was severe famine there was no food for the people of the land v 6. With people crammed into Jerusalem’s alleys eating rationed food, drinking rationed water, cooking over their own excrement, anxiety building every day, garbage mounting, wood disappearing, sanitation, hygiene, dirty utensils, disease, corpses possibly cast over the city walls to avoid petrification in the city (Speak, Thus says the Lord, The corpses of men will fall like dung on the open field, and like the sheaf after the reaper, but no one will gather them 9:22)—easy to envision what Jeremiah meant when he predicted that famine, pestilence and the sword were coming. Very desperate, terrible and horrible. Thus the book of Lamentations 1:1. The Babylonians got through the city wall. Zedekiah fled out the south end of the city v 7. The Babylonians caught him near Jericho v 8 and sentenced him v 9. Nebuchadnezzar executed Zedekiah's sons as he watched, as well as Zedekiahs officials present, then put out Zedekiahs eyes v 10-11. They took him to Babylon, where he died.
The Fall of Jerusalem Verses 12-16
This is one of four accounts of the fall of Jerusalem in the Old Testament (2 Kgs 25; 2 Chr 36; Jer 52; Zech 12). The repetition underlines the importance of the event. Zedekiah was the last king of the Davidic dynasty to rule over Judah from Jerusalem. 2 Kings 25:8 says Nebuzaradan came to Jerusalem on the seventh day, and here we learn he burned the houses in the city on the tenth day v 12-13. They broke down all the walls around Jerusalem making it indefensible v 14. Those who survived the siege were carried to Babylon as exiles v 15. He left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen v 16.
Application: No amount of modification will reverse the ultimate outcome of your actions, decisions or priorities. You will reap exactly what you have sown. If you keep doing what you have been doing you will keep getting more of what you have already gotten. For Judah, their rebellious nature caught up with them. So, too, will yours. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27). There is no winning strategy that violates Gods character.
THE BIBLES DECLARATIONS ALIGN EXACTLY AS PREDICTED
Jerusalem is sacked 17-23
Jeremiah had predicted that the furnishings still remaining in the Temple would be taken to Babylon (27:19-22). The false prophet Hananiah contradicted Jeremiah by promising that the furniture already taken to Babylon would be returned (28:3). Which prophet was correct? This chapter proves the truth of Jeremiah’s prophecy. This was a huge undertaking—the immense size of the objects is even described. The Temple is stripped bare and then they burned the house of the Lord v 17. Note the bronze v 17, fine gold v 19 and fine silver v 19. This was considerable wealth. Before the Babylonians burned the temple, they looted it. The bronze articles, including the 12 oxen that formed a base for the sea, were so heavy that their weight was beyond calculating v 20. The description of detailed pomegranates v 22-23 indicates the elaborate nature of the temple.
People are deported to Babylon 24-30
The number of exiles who went into captivity was important, because it was on this group that the future of Israel depended. Their deportation also validated many of Jeremiah's prophecies that predicted the people would go into captivity in Babylon. Many of the high ranking officials were taken to Riblah and executed where the Babylonians had executed Zedekiah’s son’s v 27. Jeremiah's call to surrender had seemed too radical, but now the city's leaders had to pay the price that Babylon put on their refusal.
Nebuchadnezzar carried three groups of Judahites into captivity. Jeremiah mentions 3,023 and 832 v 28. In 597 B.C. he deported 3,023 Jews. Then in 586 B.C., he took an additional 832 Jews to Babylon v 29. The third group, of 745 people (presumably adult males), went to Babylon under Nebuzaradan's authority in 581 B.C. v 30. So it seems the exiles Jeremiah mentions here are minor exiles and not major ones. This number may be only the adult males, or only the adult males from Jerusalem, since in 2 Kings 24:14 and 16, the number taken is 10,000 or 8,000, respectively. The deportations mentioned here by Jeremiah are (a) Nebuchadnezzar’s seventh year (598 B.C.), (b) his eighteenth year (587 B.C.), and (c) his 23rd year (582 B.C.). This was a very small number of people. Perhaps the editor wanted to make the point that the Lord could build a new future out of a mere handful of people.
Application: What we have here is a detailed account of the prophecy of Jeremiah. The Bible can be understood at a literal plain face value level, in this case, just as Jeremiah had plainly spoken. Actually, the utensils are specifically named individually. God can specify a flood, crossing the red sea, manna from heaven, a virgin birth, or predict an antichrist because His Word can reasonably be understood at face value. Just as Jeremiah predicted the rest of the Tempe utensils being taken.
WHEN WE SEE GOD RESTORE SOMEONE IT CAN MOTIVATE TO STAY FAITHFUL
Evil-merodach was the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzer v 31. After 37 years of exile, in the first year of the reign of Evilmerodach as king of Babylon, as part of the festivities at the end of his accession year, (possibly due to the influence of Daniel) he brought Jechoiachin out of prison and set his throne above the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon v 32. He also changed his prison clothes ... had his meals in the king’s presence v 33... and had a regular allowance v 34. Jehoiachin’s favor gave hope to the exiles that God’s promised blessing and restoration would come. However, Jeremiah had prophesied that none of Jehoiachin's sons would rule over Judah. So, while Evilmerodach's treatment of Jehoiachin was encouraging, the future would require a supernatural act of God to perpetuate the Davidic dynasty and to produce the Messiah.
Application: Jeremiah was faithful to God and obedient to God’s Word. He suffered rejection by his own family, he was cursed, he was thrown into a cistern and into a dungeon. He was mocked. No one listened to him. He was lonely—no wife or children. He suffered through famine, pestilence, and attacks by swords. He was grieved at the hardness of the people and their lack of repentance. He wept as they suffered and died. Then when the invasion was finally over, he was taken captive by people in direct disobedience to God and he died in Egypt. To the last, the future of Israel is seen as lying with the exiles in Babylon and not with those in Egypt or in their old homeland. As the writer of Hebrews says, “... being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (of whom the world was not worthy) ... having gained approval through their faith ... Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 11:37-38; 12:1-3).
1. God has sets things up so that sin delivers some type of death of something, in some way, somehow. Violating God’s character is like crossing the street without looking. You are in peril all the time.
2. Its reasonable to conclude that the Bible taken at face value can be relied upon to be true and trusted.
3. Hope is desired expectation. We cannot live without hope—future desires that I expect will happen.