Deciding to Trust the Word

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 20-22, “Deciding to Trust the Word”

Early in his ministry, Billy Graham faced a crisis of faith.  His longtime ministry partner Charles Templeton had renounced Christianity, and all sorts of questions were posed to Billy regarding what he believed about the Bible.  He was on the cusp of beginning the 1949 Los Angeles evangelistic crusades, and all of a sudden he found himself questioning the Bible.  In his words, “Finally I went for a walk in the moonlit forest. I knelt down with my Bible on a tree stump in front of me and began praying. I don’t recall my exact words, but my prayer went something like this: “O Lord, there are many things in this book I don’t understand. There are many problems in it for which I have no solution. … But, Father, by faith I am going to accept this as Thy Word. From this moment on I am going to trust the Bible as the Word of God.”

Jeremiah is going to face his own crisis of faith, and he’s going to have to decide to trust God.  The people of Jerusalem will be given an opportunity to trust the word of God, as will be the final succession of kings.  Who will listen?  Will we?

Jeremiah 20

  • The persecuting priest (vss. 1-6)

1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

  • Pashhur, son of Immer, was not the high priest, but he was a priest.  He had the role of being “chief governor in the house of the LORD.”  IOW, he had chief responsibilities over the temple grounds.
  • He heard what Jeremiah has been preaching – most likely the message from the end of Ch. 19.  Jeremiah 19:14–15, "(14) Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people, (15) “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.’ ”" [] Felt he needed to respond, so he beat Jeremiah, arrested him, and threw him “in the stocks.

3 And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, “The LORD has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. 4 For thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon.

  • Would a day and night in the stocks change Jeremiah’s message?  No doubt, that’s what Pashhur hoped.  Instead, the prophet of God doubled down.  Not only would God bring doom upon the city of Jerusalem, but He specifically states the nation that will bring it & how they will do it.
  • Scholars debate the meaning/translation of the name “Pashhur,” but there’s no doubt of the meaning of “Magor-Missabib.” = “Fear on every side.”  The priest had persecuted the prophet out of fear – the priest had persecuted the prophet because Jeremiah preached a frightening message from God – now the priest would be stuck with the label of fear as his very name.  God would show him the reason to fear!

6 And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies.’ ”

  • Jeremiah (via the Holy Spirit) goes further.  It’s not just the city of Jerusalem that had destruction assured, it was Pashhur himself.  The priest and his family would personally be taken captive and face death in Babylon.
  • Just because someone is in the ministry does not mean that they are exempt from obeying the Lord.  Pashhur had sinned against the Lord in more than one way.  Not only had he persecuted the true prophet of God, but the priest had taken the office of prophet upon himself and ended up prophesying lies to the people.  He tickled their ears, and told them what they wanted to hear – all the while claiming that it was the word of God.  He lied about the Lord, and he would be judged for it.
  • Jeremiah’s lament for his ministry (vss. 7-18)
  • Called by God to preach (vss. 7-10)

7 O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me. 8 For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the LORD was made to me A reproach and a derision daily.

  • The first thing we need to keep in mind as we read this is that Jeremiah is just being honest with his emotions.  Honest emotions don’t always equal correct theology…  God values sincerity more than technicalities.  The intellectual technicalities can always be corrected, but pretentiousness and hypocrisy is an issue of the heart.
  • Jeremiah starts by virtually accusing God of falsehood from how the prophet was called to ministry.  As if God had not been upfront with the suffering that Jeremiah would face, or had somehow manipulated him into service.  BTW – this is not true.  Yes, God had promised deliverance to Jeremiah, but never once did God promise that Jeremiah would be delivered from the experience of suffering; only that God would deliver him from the experience of defeat.  Jeremiah 1:19, "They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.”" []
  • No doubt, God had called Jeremiah to the ministry, and the ministry God gave to Jeremiah was hard.  The prophet had to daily speak of the destruction and death that would come to the people and city whom he loved.  He had to constantly warn the people of God’s judgment that was soon to come.  And if that weren’t bad enough, because the judgment had not yet come, the people mocked Jeremiah, not taking his words seriously at all.
  • Jeremiah’s solution?  Silence, or so he thought.  Vs. 9…

9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

  • The prophet tried to stop preaching God’s word, but he couldn’t  Every time he attempted silence, the word of God burned in him, eventually bursting forth like a gusher.
  • Never, never, never stop preaching the gospel!  Whether you are called to “full-time” ministry or not, when the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence within you as a born-again Christian, you’re never going to be able to stay totally silent about the things of Jesus.  Eventually, it’s going to burst forth.  If it doesn’t, you might need to examine your heart to see if there is something wrong.
    • As an aside, it’s been often said that there are two terrible places for a person to be: uncalled, but in the ministry – and not in the ministry, but called.  Pulpits are filled with men and women who have not been called of God, but treat the pastorate as a career – and it’s no wonder when they get burned out.  They’re miserable because they never should have been there in the first place.  At the same time, there are Godly people who ought to be serving the Lord in some capacity, but they’ve repeatedly rejected God’s clear calling – and their conscience weighs on them heavily.  The true calling of the ministry of the gospel makes the teaching of Scripture like a fire burning in the bones…it must be released, or woe to the person who has it!
  • Though God had called Jeremiah, it didn’t stop people from making fun of him. Vs. 10…

10 For I heard many mocking: “Fear on every side!” “Report,” they say, “and we will report it!” All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, “Perhaps he can be induced; Then we will prevail against him, And we will take our revenge on him.”

  • Apparently Jeremiah had preached “Fear on every side!” so much, that people ended up calling him that as he walked through the streets.  Ironically, this is the same name that God ended up giving to Pashhur the priest.
  • The people hated Jeremiah, and desired to take “revenge on him.”  For what reason?  For being faithful to God. Those who hate God’s message will also hate God’s messengers.
  • Jeremiah’s faith renewed (vss. 11-13)

11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.

  • It’s a bit of a mood swing for Jeremiah (and won’t be the last!), but even as Jeremiah laments the mockery and persecution against his life, he cannot help but give praise to God.  Even though Jeremiah had earlier accused God of underhandedness in getting him into the ministry, ultimately Jeremiah knows better.  He truly understood deep down that God is good, and that would eventually prevail over his enemies.  The persecutors would be the ones to fear, as they would be judged by God.
  • Who was on Jeremiah’s side?  “The LORD…a mighty, awesome One.”  AMEN!  If God is for us, who can be against us?

12 But, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, And see the mind and heart, Let me see Your vengeance on them; For I have pleaded my cause before You.

  • God is the everlasting.
  • God is the mighty.
  • God is the judge.
  • God is the avenger.
  • As Jeremiah thinks upon God’s character, he cannot help but erupt in praise. Vs. 13…

13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For He has delivered the life of the poor From the hand of evildoers.

  • We cannot say for certain when Jeremiah wrote this.  Perhaps it was right after the prophet was delivered from the stocks – perhaps it was later when he was in prison again.  No doubt, it was during a time of tremendous persecution and suffering.  But even the worst of suffering does not silence Jeremiah’s praise!  Like Paul and Silas who sang hymns even while chained, so does Jeremiah break forth with joyful songs of deliverance – looking forward in faith to the deliverance that had not yet arrived.
  • God is always good – even when times are incredibly bad.
  • Jeremiah’s honest depression (vss. 14-18)

14 Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me! 15 Let the man be cursed Who brought news to my father, saying, “A male child has been born to you!” Making him very glad. 16 And let that man be like the cities Which the LORD—overthrew, and did not relent; Let him hear the cry in the morning And the shouting at noon,

  • Another mood swing for Jeremiah.  Just because he could theologically give praise to God for a future deliverance did not mean that Jeremiah suffered any less in the moment.  What he experienced was real & it was heart-wrenching.  Jeremiah’s words echo those of Job’s – another man of God who experienced excruciating hardship.  Neither lost faith in God, but each questioned why they had to suffer so terribly.  That’s honest.  That’s real-life.
    • The Bible deals with real life issues.
  • In Jeremiah’s case, he even regretted the day of his birth – rhetorically proclaiming a curse on the man who announced his birthday.  Obviously that man did nothing wrong, but Jeremiah was in so much pain later on & suffered so deep a depression, that he thought his whole life to be a torturous waste.
    • Godly people get depressed.  This depth of grief does not indicate a weakness, nor a lack of faith – it simply is what it is.  Those who teach that mature Christians never have a joyless day have never read the prophets, nor the psalms, nor even the words of Jesus from the cross when He cried out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  To be sure, we CAN look to God and find joy in our sorrow – but sometimes sorrow is simply hard to shake.  The last thing a Christian needs to do is start beating him/herself up about it & blaming his/her faith.
    • The good news is that Christians still have access to the power of God in the midst of our suffering.  We might experience depression from time to time, but we never experience abandonment by Jesus.  We can call out to Him, and trust that He will give us the grace we need to walk through those times.

17 Because he did not kill me from the womb, That my mother might have been my grave, And her womb always enlarged with me. 18 Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?

  • How bad was it for Jeremiah?  He wished he had been a miscarriage & that his mother’s womb had been his grave.  This is obvious exaggeration on Jeremiah’s part, but it’s no doubt a glimpse into his honest emotions at the time.
  • All of that begs the question: Why does God allow His people to suffer to immensely?  Obviously God is sovereign & all-powerful.  He could stop whatever suffering He so desired, and we know that no suffering we experience has not first been filtered through His hands (per Job).  So if God allows it & He doesn’t have to, why does He?  That’s an honest question to which we might never know the full answer.  It’s interesting that in the book of the Bible completely dedicated to this particular issue, that this question is never actually answered.  Job asks the question “Why?” but even when God physically encounters him and speaks with him for 4 chapters, God never once answers it.  Instead, God gives the answer to a different question: “Who?”  God repeatedly declares His power, character, and nature to Job…and in the end, that proves to be entirely sufficient.  Once God is done speaking, Job repents in dust and ashes.  There’s something we can learn there.  We might desire to know why, but what we really need to know is who.  In the depths of our suffering, our greatest need is not intellectual satisfaction, but power & grace for the moment.  That only comes through the person of Jesus Christ.  We find what we need in HIM, and Him alone.

Jeremiah 21

  • Jerusalem’s last chance: surrender (vss. 1-10)

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, saying, 2 “Please inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful works, that the king may go away from us.”

  • The timeframe changes, as is common in the book of Jeremiah.  For now, the chronology fast-forwards past the initial invasions of Babylon, right up to the very last ones that completely decimate the city of Jerusalem.  There is a different Pashhur that approaches Jeremiah (the son of Melchiah, rather than the son of Immer – Ch 20:1), though history shows that this particular Pashhur doesn’t treat Jeremiah too much differently.  Eventually he will oversee Jeremiah being thrown into a pit and left to die (Ch 38).  Yet this time, Jeremiah is not assaulted & arrested; King Zedekiah sends Pashhur to Jeremiah asking the prophet to “inquire of the LORD.”  Zedekiah had seen the approaching Babylonian armies, and he was hoping that perhaps the Lord God might deliver the Jews out of the hands of the Babylonians, just as God had delivered the Jews out of the hands of the Assyrians back in the days of King Hezekiah.
  • Zedekiah was a weak king – personally installed by Nebuchadnezzar, and likely viewed as illegitimate by the people.  Initially, Zedekiah had served the king of Babylon as a vassal state ruler, but eventually he rebelled, which caused the king to come out with his armies. (2 Kings 24-25)  What is so striking about Zedekiah’s question here is that he obviously had not been listening to Jeremiah’s words in the first place.  By this point, Jeremiah had been prophesying for years regarding the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, and yet Zedekiah is hoping for a word of deliverance.  There had never been any personal or national repentance on their part – there had been no change from the wickedness that had been taking place over the reigns of the past several kings, but somehow now Zedekiah expects God to give a promise of deliverance.  Just because God had done a mighty work in the past did not mean that God would change His plan which He had repeatedly stated for the present.  God’s word would stand, no matter what.

3 Then Jeremiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, 4 ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. 5 I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath. 6 I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence.

  • God’s promise was the opposite of the king’s hope.  God would not fight FOR Jerusalem, but would instead fight AGAINST them.  He would be the One to assemble the enemy army – He would be the One to stretch out His hand against everyone in the city.  Again, Paul wrote to the Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” But the opposite is true as well: if God is against us, who can possibly prevail?  The author of Hebrews puts it well: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Heb 10:31)

7 And afterward,” says the LORD, “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his servants and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence and the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those who seek their life; and he shall strike them with the edge of the sword. He shall not spare them, or have pity or mercy.” ’

  • It would not be only the city in general; King Zedekiah would personally experience the destruction brought by the hand of God through Babylon.  He would suffer immensely as he and his family was struck with the sword. 2 Kings 25:6–7, "(6) So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. (7) Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon." []  Truly no pity nor mercy was shown to Zedekiah.

8 “Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. 10 For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good,” says the LORD. “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” ’

  • God had promised certain doom and judgment via the Babylonians, but He does leave one strand of hope remaining – although it sounds completely contrary to the good of the people: surrender.  Contrary to what the king of Judah desired, God has His prophet Jeremiah preach what would have been considered a message of treason.  Basically, “If you want to live, then surrender to the Babylonians.  You’ll lose everything you own, but at least you’ll escape with your life.”  Otherwise, all the people would face is famine, defeat, capture, torture, and death.  This isn’t the most cheery message to proclaim to the people – it certainly wasn’t the rousing, “Give me liberty or give me death!” message that the people (and the king) might have desired.  Yet this was indeed the message of God.
  • The question for the people then becomes: would they trust their instincts, or the word of God?  Their instinct would be to fight for their king and homeland.  But God infinitely outranks their king.  God had told them to surrender – would they trust Him and His word, even though it sounded strange to their ears.  A few would, but most would not – and they would experience exactly what God promised them: death.
    • Do we trust the word of God, even when it seems contrary to our culture or even our instincts?  Too often we tend to judge God’s word based on how we react to it.  If the interpretation “feels” right, then it must be right, but if not, then it’s something to be ignored.  Feelings come & go, but God’s word never changes.  We can solidly base our whole lives on the word of God – but we have to make the decision to trust God, no matter what.
  • Introduction to God’s condemnation of the kings (vss. 11-14)…setting up Ch 22.

11 “And concerning the house of the king of Judah, say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, 12 O house of David! Thus says the LORD: “Execute judgment in the morning; And deliver him who is plundered Out of the hand of the oppressor, Lest My fury go forth like fire And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.

  • This was the basic requirement for any king – Jew or Gentile.  This wasn’t anything unusual; it was the bare minimum.  God expected kings and rulers to judge righteously & stand up for the oppressed.  If the kings neglected their duties, then God Himself would personally judge them.
    • God will judge ALL rulers, be they political or religious.

13 “Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, And rock of the plain,” says the LORD, “Who say, ‘Who shall come down against us? Or who shall enter our dwellings?’ 14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,” says the LORD; “I will kindle a fire in its forest, And it shall devour all things around it.” ’ ”

  • Specifically towards the rulers in Jerusalem, God declared that He was against them.  Keep in mind that this is the house that HE built.  This is what He promised to David: that God would build him an everlasting house. (2 Sam 7:13)  Yet now God had to turn against the family that He had promised to David, in righteous punishment.  God had delivered them many times in the past, but that would not shelter them from the righteous judgment of God.
  • Obviously God would keep the house of David alive.  He removed them from power, but preserved the line until the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the rightful king of Israel, according the line and covenant of David (as we’ll see at the end of Ch. 22).  But for now, they had crossed a point of no return.  God had withheld judgment on the house of David in the past, but now He was forced to act.

Jeremiah 22

  • Against the kingly office (vss. 1-10)

1 Thus says the LORD: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, 2 and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! 3 Thus says the LORD: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David.

  • Some believe this word to be specifically spoken against Zedekiah, but the actual king is left unnamed.  Regardless of who it was initially given to, the word could be given to ANY king of Judah.  So many had acted in wickedness, oppressing the people & enriching themselves, and God called them to repentance.  This was one of the reasons the Babylonians were coming in the first place.  Not only had the people descended into unchecked pagan idolatry, but the kings had totally misrepresented God, and had neglected their duties. 
  • Yet the promised hope was that if they repented, God would preserve them.  God always held out the offer of repentance, even while He proclaimed their certain doom.  Was the offer sincere?  Yes.  Was God speaking out of both sides of His mouth?  No.  God could honestly offer repentance, because the offer was sincere.  But being omniscient, God also knew that the kings (and people) would never repent.  Though the offer was honest, the people were steadfast in their rebellion, so it was never in doubt that they would endure the judgment of God.  A similar situation was true with Judas.  Jesus repeatedly gave Judas opportunities to confess & repent, but Judas continually hardened his heart & Jesus knew exactly what the outcome would be.
    • It may be too late to avoid certain consequences of our actions, but it’s never too late to humble ourselves before God!  God desires true, sincere repentance – and as long as we’re alive we still have the opportunity to do exactly that.

5 But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the LORD, “that this house shall become a desolation.” ’ ” 6 For thus says the LORD to the house of the king of Judah: “You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon; Yet I surely will make you a wilderness, Cities which are not inhabited. 7 I will prepare destroyers against you, Everyone with his weapons; They shall cut down your choice cedars And cast them into the fire.

  • The picture here is one of contrast.  Gilead & Lebanon were fruitful areas, known for their forests & other agriculture.  Jerusalem would go from that to barrenness by the hand of God.  God would ensure the king and city would face certain destruction, and even the house of the king (built from the cedars of Lebanon) would be burnt in destruction.
  • Why?  Because the people had refused to repent of their sin.  Vs. 8…

8 And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, ‘Why has the LORD done so to this great city?’ 9 Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.’ ”

  • The nation of Israel was always supposed to serve as an example to the world.  God had intended that the nation be an example of what it looked like to live in a right relationship with God.  He desired that the Hebrew people be used to draw the world to Himself, and bring many to the true worship of God.  Instead, the Jewish people became an example of God’s judgment.  They would demonstrate to all the world what happens to a people who abandoned the worship of the true God for idolatry.
    • It didn’t have to be this way!

10 Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him; Weep bitterly for him who goes away, For he shall return no more, Nor see his native country.

  • Normally people would weep for the dead; why not here?  Because the dead cannot suffer any more than what they already have (physically speaking).  At least the dead would die in their homeland; the captives would suffer as they were taken out and left longing for Jerusalem.
  • At this point, God begins giving Jeremiah prophecies against the last kings of Judah.  Whether they were prophesied in advance of their reigns, in their reigns, or afterwards we don’t know.  Likely they were spoken at various times & all compiled there because the theme fits together.
  • Against Shallum (vss. 11-17)

11 For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: “He shall not return here anymore, 12 but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.

  • Shallum is known as Jehoahaz in 2 Kings.  One of the sons of righteous King Josiah, Jehoahaz/Shallum reigned only three years before he was imprisoned by Pharaoh Neco (as Egypt tried to ascend one more time in opposition to the burgeoning Babylonian power).  Just as Jeremiah predicted, Shallum was removed from the land & never returned.  Interestingly, the land to which Shallum was taken is left unsaid.  Possibly, this is an indication this was written prior to his imprisonment, but although Babylon has been prominently featured elsewhere, it’s not mentioned once here.  History proved the prophecy to be 100% true.

13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages And gives him nothing for his work, 14 Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, And cut out windows for it, Paneling it with cedar And painting it with vermilion.’

  • Apparently Jehoahaz/Shallum had used his three years in office wickedly.  Despite the heavy taxes that were already placed upon Judah by Egypt, the king taxed his people more in order to build up his own personal palace.  He even refused to pay the workers who labored for him.  Like so many in power, he thought of no one but himself & did everything he could to increase his own luxury.
  • God compares him with his father Josiah, vs. 15…

15 “Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; Then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?” says the LORD. 17 “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence.”

  • It wasn’t Shallum’s wealth or birthright that would make him a good king; it was whether or not he followed the word of God.  Josiah had done what was right, bringing desperately needed reform to the temple, and judging the people fairly.  Shallum apparently learned nothing from his father.  His eyes were never upon the Lord, but only upon his own greed and selfishness.
  • Godly leaders seek to glorify the Lord first.  Josiah proved that he knew the Lord through his righteous actions.  “Was not this knowing Me?”  Likewise with any position of leadership in which we might be placed.  Know God – seek Him & His face – follow the principles of the Bible – and in the process, we will show Godly leadership and demonstrate that we know the Lord.
  • Against Jehoiakim (vss. 18-23)

18 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’ They shall not lament for him, Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’ 19 He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

  • Following Jehoahaz/Shallum was his brother Jehoiakim.  After Pharaoh Neco imprisoned Shallum, he installed Jehoiakim on the throne.  Although he ruled longer than his brother (11 years, as opposed to three – 2 Chr 36:5), he was not an improvement.  He also heavily taxed the people, and did evil in the sight of the Lord.  So bad was he as a king, that Jeremiah could proclaim that no one would mourn his death.  One of the worst disgraces a Jew could experience would be to have his dead body lie unburied, open to air & decay – and apparently that’s what happened with the dead body of this king.  He committed all kinds of abominations, and God allowed all sorts of raiders to come into the land during his reign, and thus people didn’t miss him when he was gone.

20 “Go up to Lebanon, and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry from Abarim, For all your lovers are destroyed. 21 I spoke to you in your prosperity, But you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, That you did not obey My voice. 22 The wind shall eat up all your rulers, And your lovers shall go into captivity; Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated For all your wickedness. 23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, Making your nest in the cedars, How gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, Like the pain of a woman in labor?

  • As with his brother, Jehoiakim had ignored the prophets and the word of God.  He rejected God, and thus God rejected him.  He lost everything, and none of his riches could save him.
  • Against Coniah (vss. 24-30)

24 “As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; 25 and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans.

  • Coniah/Jehoiachin was the 2nd to last king of Judah, and he served for only the briefest of time (3 months, 10 days) in Jerusalem, before he was taken to captivity in Babylon in the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.  Though his reign was short, it was definitely evil in the sight of the Lord God.  The judgment proclaimed against Coniah is one of the sternest out of all the descendants of Josiah.  God promised to judge Coniah, despite whatever glory or position that he thought he had.  Even if Coniah had been as a signet ring to God (one of the king’s most valuable tools, serving as his royal signature), God would still pluck him off and deliver him to the enemy.

26 So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.

  • Interestingly, the judgment against Coniah is not to face the sword in death, but to be cast out to “another country” and eventually die there.  Historically, that is exactly what happened.  Nebuchadnezzar took him prisoner, but 37 years later the then-king of Babylon (Evil-merodach) brought him out of prison and gave him provisions at the royal table (2 Kings 25:27-30)

28 “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know?

  • Of all people, the king of Judah should have been a vessel for honor; but instead he was dishonored & broken.  We don’t know much of what he did, but God had far better plans for him than what he submitted himself to.  He missed out on being used for the glory of God.
  • Though Coniah survived, he was cursed – serving as a lesson to all the world of God’s judgment.

29 O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! 30 Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ”

  • Coniah/Jehoiachin did have children, but not a one of them sat on the throne of Jerusalem.  His uncle Zedekiah took his place on the throne after Coniah was taken captive.  The royal line could have continued through Coniah, but it didn’t due to the unalterable judgment of God.
  • All of that brings up an interesting issue in regards to the true King of Israel, the Lord Jesus.  Jesus had to be a son of David, because that was the promise given to David by God.  But David had many sons; only one line was considered the royal line: that which passed down via Solomon & eventually through Jehoiachin/Coniah.  Yet God said that no descendant of Coniah would ever sit upon the throne.  How to resolve this?  God does it perfectly in the Lord Jesus, which is one of the reasons for the differing genealogies we find in Matthew & Luke.  Luke’s account gives the line of Mary (which is demonstrated in a few ways: (1) Luke’s detailed accounts of Mary’s pregnancy – and Luke is the only author who shows this, and (2) the disclaimer in Luke 3:23 about Jesus being “as was supposed the son of Joseph).  This genealogy shows Jesus coming through a son of David by the name of Nathan.  He’s still a son of David, but definitely not the royal line.  Matthew’s account details the genealogy of Joseph (demonstrated similarly: (1) Matthew’s concentration on Joseph’s dreams and responsibilities concerning the child, and (2) the disclaimer in Mt 1:16 saying “Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” Matthew never claims that Jesus was born of Joseph, but that Joseph was the husband of Jesus’ mother.)  In this genealogy, Joseph is shown being descended of Solomon, and eventually of Jeconiah/Coniah/Jehoiachin.  So what does all of that have to do with reconciling the curse of God upon the royal line?  Jesus is biologically a son of David through His physical mother, but Jesus is brought into the royal line by right of adoption through His earthly father.  Thus a physical descendent of Coniah never once sits on the throne, but the royal lineage is perfectly preserved, as is the unbreakable covenant promise that God made to David.
    • God’s word always proves true!

Conclusion:
With all the condemnation upon the various kings of Judah, it is amazing to end here.  Even in the curse put upon Jeconiah, there is a promise of hope held out for the future Messiah.  God has a plan in place, even if the people at the time cannot see it.  Jeremiah will speak more directly of the coming king in Ch. 23, but for now although things look incredibly dark for the Jewish people, God never completely removes all hope from them.  God’s sovereign plan is at work, even if it seems invisible.

It was that way with Jeremiah as well.  The prophet was definitely called of God (no doubt!), but he suffered in terrible ways.  He was honest with his laments as he brought his depression to the feet of his Lord God.  Here too, God’s sovereign plan was working.  Jeremiah would outlast all of his persecutors.  Jeremiah’s words would prove true in front of those who mocked him.  Although it was difficult, Jeremiah needed to endure – and he could do so as long as he kept his eyes upon the Lord God.

Trusting the Lord in the midst of hopelessness is no doubt difficult.  It would have been difficult for the people of Jerusalem, as God called them to surrender to Babylon.  But trusting the Lord was the way to life.

That was true for them, and that is true for us.  We need to make the choice to trust the word of God.  Despite what our feelings might be – despite what our culture might state – we need to be willing to draw a line in the sand & declare our trust in God’s word.  His word will always prove true, even when everything else falls flat.

Perhaps you’re struggling with something tonight in which you need to simply take a stand.  Make the decision to trust God & His written word.  Even if you have to make that same decision 100 times, keep declaring your trust in God, and ask for His help to trust Him.

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