Last Chance for Repentance

Posted: July 16, 2015 in Jeremiah, Route 66

Route 66: Jeremiah, “Last Chance for Repentance”

“Last chance…”  As a rule, we don’t want to miss out on opportunities.  Driving through West Texas, we pay close attention to signs pointing to gas stations or rest-stops…after all, it may be our last chance for the next 100 miles.

The kingdom of Judah had come up on their last chance: their last chance for repentance.  After watching their brothers to the north go down in flames to the Assyrian Empire (and almost facing the same fate themselves), they had been given the opportunity by God to turn away from their sin and idolatry & repent.  They were invited to turn back to God in His mercy & grace, and Jeremiah was one of the prophets tasked with sounding the call.

And through him, God gave plenty of warning!  Jeremiah’s ministry lasted from the final days of the final revival in Judah to the weeks following Jerusalem’s final fall to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.  All throughout that time (and even afterwards), the people who were supposedly the people of God all had the opportunity to turn back to God in humility, repentance, and sincere worship.  Instead, they squandered every act of divine mercy, and seemed to openly invite the judgment of God.  They missed their last chance.

We don’t want to follow in their footsteps!  Thankfully, we are in a different relationship with God, in that we are the Church; not Israel.  We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and He sends God the Holy Spirit to indwell us & seal us for salvation.  Although we live in this world, this world is not our home & we look forward to a heavenly kingdom in which we will be led by King Jesus Himself.

That said, as we look around at our own nation, it seems that we are rapidly running out of time.  God continues to give opportunities for our culture to repent, turning away from national sins – and as a whole, our culture thumbs our collective nose in God’s face, just like the ancient Jews did.  Likewise, we will also probably miss our last chance to repent, and our nation will have to face the severe consequences of our actions (or inaction).

That brings us to our mission as the Church: the Great Commission.  We are tasked with being the Jeremiahs to our own nation!  We are the ones who have been entrusted with the word of God, just as Jeremiah was.  We are the ones who have the responsibility to deliver this word to our neighbors, just like Jeremiah did.  It won’t be easy (nor was it easy for Jeremiah), but it must be done.  If we don’t sound the alarm, who will?  If we don’t call our nation to repent, who will?

Of course, we cannot warn outwardly what we’re not willingly to apply personally.  There are many areas our culture needs to repent, but that doesn’t mean the Church is faultless.  It doesn’t mean that as individual Christians, we are faultless.  Where there is sin, there needs to be confession.  Where there is transgression, there needs to be repentance.  Without it, we won’t lose our opportunity for eternity, but we might miss out on much else along the way.  We might lose our credibility, our family, our witness, our opportunities for ministry, and more.  God will not pour out His wrath upon us, but God most certainly will discipline us.  This may be our last chance.  May we not squander it!

BACKGROUND:
We know more about Jeremiah than probably any other prophet in Scripture.  As we’ll see, his book includes much biographical information about his own life.  He was of a priestly line in the southern kingdom, living in the city of Anathoth (in Benjamin).  He personally suffered scorn, imprisonment, and other forms of persecution (giving the lie to the false doctrine of the “prosperity gospel”).  Unlike other prophets, he lived as a bachelor, and seemingly his only constant companion was his faithful scribe Baruch.  Chronologically, Jeremiah lived during the years of the tail end of the southern kingdom, which fell in 586BC.  His ministry seemingly lasted 50 years, making him one of the longest-active prophets in the Bible.  The Scriptures do not tell of his death, and legends vary, with Jeremiah either dying among the Jewish refugees in Egypt, or in Babylon (after the Egyptian excursus ended).

Was Jeremiah successful?  Judging from an external viewpoint, many would say “no.”  After all, he preached for 50 years & persuaded only a handful of minds.  He was actively persecuted, almost drowning in muck in a Jerusalem dungeon & being basically taken captive by his own countrymen as they fled to Egypt (contrary to his warnings).  Virtually everything he said was ignored, and his nation did indeed miss out on their opportunities to repent.  Yet was he a failure?  Absolutely not!  Jeremiah was faithful.  Numbers aren’t the measure of success in ministry; faithfulness is.  Jeremiah did what God called him to do, not missing a beat.  Even when Jeremiah didn’t want to do it, he couldn’t hold back.  God’s word was like a burning fire held up in his bones, and he had to let it out.  Even when it meant his own hardship, Jeremiah chose to be faithful to the message and work God entrusted to him.

In that, he serves as a tremendous example to all of us!  There may be times that it is difficult to be a Christian.  There might be occasions when we wonder if God is doing anything through us at all.  During those times, the question to ask is simply this: “Am I being faithful?  Am I doing what I can with what God has given me?  Am I working in His strength, reliant upon Him?”  If so, praise the Lord!  You might not see the external fruit you desire, but remember that it’s not your job to produce fruit.  You be faithful; God produces fruit.  Whether He chooses to give much or to give little is up to Him.  We just need to be faithful with what He has placed into our hands.  (Be that time in prayer, finances, relationships, opportunities to serve or share the gospel, etc…)

As to the book of Jeremiah itself, there is little doubt that Jeremiah was the author (and probably helped by Baruch along the way).  As always, there are liberal scholars who cast doubt upon the traditional authorship, but they are without cause.  The only real reason to doubt is if one doubts the authenticity of Scripture in the first place, unwilling to acknowledge God as the true Author of history.  Jeremiah gives prophecy with astounding accuracy, which only affirms the supernatural inspiration of God upon him, rather than suggest a later writer lied about his identity & wrote under Jeremiah’s name.  (Besides, how illogical is it to write a book exhorting repentance, all the while lying about your own identity?)

GENERAL OUTLINE

  • Prologue (1)
  • Prophecies against the Jews (2-25)
  • Biographical interlude #1 (26-29)
  • Book of Comfort (30-33)
  • Biographical interlude #2 (34-45)
  • Prophecies against the Gentiles (46-51)
  • Epilogue (52)

Prologue (1)
Background/timeframe (1:1-3)
As is typical with the prophets, a brief introduction is given regarding the prophet’s ministry & the time period in which he served.  For Jeremiah, we are told that he was the son of a priest in the Benjamite town of Anathoth – which is interesting based on a bit of ancient Jewish politics.  When David died, there were two influential priests: Abiathar & Zadok.  Abiathar supported the elder son Adonijah, while Zadok supported David’s choice of Solomon.  When Solomon became king, Abiathar pled for mercy & Solomon exiled him to his hometown of Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26).  Whether or not Jeremiah was a direct descendant of Adonijah, we don’t know – but he certainly had less inherent loyalties to the Davidic dynasty than other priests who lived & worked in Jerusalem.  This no doubt helped Jeremiah have the courage to speak freely to the kings.  They may have been sons of David, but they were still in violation of the command of God.

  • Good reminder to fear God, rather than men…to seek to please God rather than just maintain the “status quo.”

Jeremiah’s calling (1:4-10)
The prophet was young when called by God into ministry.  In fact, he was still in the womb! (1:5) [God knows us in the wombs.  Unborn children ARE children!]  God always knew the plan that He had for Jeremiah, just like God knows the plans He has for us.  He knew how He wanted to use Jeremiah, even if all Jeremiah could see was his own weaknesses. (1:7)  God would give Jeremiah the power to do what it was God called him to do.

  • God always empowers us for His calling.  As has often been said, God doesn’t need our abilities; He needs our availability.  If we simply trust Him to work His will, we can know that He’ll empower us when the time is right.
  • That doesn’t give us an excuse to be lazy!  We’re still to study the Scriptures & spend time in prayer, etc.  But when we do, we can trust that God will use those preparations for His glory.

Initial visions (1:11-19)
At some point, God tested Jeremiah’s prophetic abilities by giving him a couple of visions – both of which God affirmed he saw rightly.  In the process, God gave Jeremiah a preview of his ministry.  He would be speaking of the coming Babylonian invasion from the north (1:15).  The Jews had sinned against God & this was God’s judgment being poured out.  That was a tough message to share (no doubt!), but Jeremiah needed to prepare himself to share it. (1:17)  God was with him & would see him through to the end. (1:19)

  • Again, this doesn’t mean that God promised to make Jeremiah’s road easy…it wasn’t!  But God did indeed preserve his life until the time that Jeremiah’s ministry was over.  The prophet could trust that God would use him just as God saw fit.  Our roads may not be easy, but our God is the One steering us down them.  We can trust that He is going to take us exactly where He wants us & that He is always in control.

Prophecies against the Jews (2-25)
This is probably the most difficult section to outline.  Some have seen 6 major messages from Jeremiah – others have seen much more.  The chapters are not necessarily arranged in any chronological fashion here.  It seems to be a general collection of Jeremiah’s prophecies against Judah & Jerusalem throughout the course of his ministry.  It may be random in date, but it is most certainly not random in theme.  Throughout, the ideas of judgment & repentance are prevalent.  God spent much time calling out to His people, all the while knowing they would not listen to Him.

God’s charges against His people (2:1-3:5)
God was fully aware of everything His people had done.  He recounted how He has blessed them & brought them into the promised land (2:6-7), but that they had forgotten Him & followed false idols (2:13).  They had lost the fear of God (2:19), and went after the Baals in worship (2:23).  God called them out on their spiritual harlotry (3:1) & openly stated their crimes.

  • Why say so much about sin?  Because sin has to be confessed if it’s going to be forsaken.  How can you turn away from something you won’t admit you did?  We so often try to hide our sins away from God, pretending they don’t exist – and then we wonder why things never get better & we keep sinking deeper & deeper into it.  Like an infected wound, our sin needs to be exposed if it is to be cleansed…and that is exactly what God promises to do! (1 Jn 1:9)

God’s invitation to repent (3:6-4:4)
God was aware of the backsliding of Israel, and didn’t want them to stay that way.  They didn’t need to think that God would refuse them – He openly invited them to humble themselves & turn back to Him asking for mercy.  Five times in this section, God calls out to them to “return.”  His invitation was sincere & His arms were ready & open to them.  Jeremiah 4:1–2, "(1) “If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, Then you shall not be moved. (2) And you shall swear, ‘The Lord lives,’ In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; The nations shall bless themselves in Him, And in Him they shall glory.”"  What mercy they would have known if they only turned back to God – and God openly invited them to do so!

  • Question: “If God knew of the certainty of His judgment, does that mean His invitation to repent was insincere?”  No.  God obviously knows the future, and thus He knew the people would not repent, but that doesn’t make His offer invalid.  God wasn’t the one forcing them NOT to repent; that was the choice they had made.  God’s offer was sincere, and because it was, the people were left without any excuse to do it.
  • The same thing could be said of the offer of salvation today.  God surely knows who will & who won’t come to faith in Jesus, but that doesn’t mean God restricts His invitation to be saved only to the elect.  The invitation of Jesus goes out to all the world, equally inviting everyone to turn to Him in repentance and faith.  It’s a person’s own decision to reject Jesus that sends them to hell; not any lack of opportunity given by God.

God’s promise of judgment (4:5-6:30)
This is the logical follow-up to the previous section.  The invitation was given to the Jews, but they refused it.  Because they would not return to God, they would surely face the judgment of God.  Jeremiah spoke clearly of the terror that would exist in the day that Babylon overthrew Jerusalem.  It pained his heart (4:19), but it needed to be said.  Throughout Ch 4-6, Jeremiah repeatedly paints the picture of the coming battle & desolation, all the while calling the people back to the worship of God.

Lies & idolatry vs. Sincerity in worship (7-10)
Earlier, God had laid out the criminal charge of idolatry against Israel – in this series of messages, its picture is clearly painted.  First, the people engaged in insincere worship of the true God (7:4), and they also engaged in the sincere worship of false gods (7:18).  The Jews had rejected the word of the Lord (8:9), and though it grieved Jeremiah (9:1), they cut down trees and decorated them as their idols (10:3-5).  They ignored how God was the Maker of all these things (10:16) & missed out on their opportunity to glory in the One True God, knowing Him in worship (9:24).

  • How often does this still happen today?  Instead of glorying in the God of truth, people exchange Him for a lie.  As Jeremiah clearly shows, it’s not the motions or acts of religion that save anyone; it’s only true faith in the true God.

God’s interactions with Jeremiah (11-12)
In the previous sections, God gave a direct word to Judah through Jeremiah – here, God seems to speak more directly to Jeremiah, having him pass on prophecies at times; other times just giving a word to the prophet.  In these prophecies, we see the first hints of persecution shown toward Jeremiah (11:21), and the prophet freely speaks with God, giving God all his questions and fears (12:1-4).

Signs & Oracles of judgment (13-19)
God didn’t use only words to prophecy through Jeremiah – as with other prophets, God also used several signs.  In one case, God told Jeremiah to get a new linen sash & leave it to rot, showing how it was profitable for nothing (13:6).  This was a symbol of the nation.  Jeremiah continued to speak of the coming judgment of God, describing terrible times of shame that were on the way (14:1-4).  At one point, God even told Jeremiah not to pray for the people (14:11), and declared that He would not turn from His judgment, even if Moses & Samuel pleaded for the people (15:1).  Without true national repentance, the people would indeed suffer the wrath of God.

Jeremiah’s own life serves as an object lesson for the people, as God commands him to remain single & childless, symbolizing the childlessness of the nation (16:1).  Another lesson was seen at the potter’s house, where the potter decided what he wanted to do with the clay (18:5).  God had the right to do with His nation as He saw fit, which included both judgment AND repentance.  Once again with the potter, God commanded a flask be taken and broken – a sign that nation was broken & beyond natural repair (19:10).  Without the supernatural work of God among them, they would all be lost.

Jeremiah vs. the Royals (20-22)
The prophet goes head-to-head against some of the royal court, including the governor (who was the son of a priest) who beat Jeremiah & threw him into the stocks.  It was discouraging to Jeremiah, but he didn’t stop preaching the message God gave him.  It was a fire shut up in his bones, needing to get out (20:9).  Jeremiah would even speak directly against the king & his house, when directed – and that’s what he did (Ch 21-22).  God continued to grant an opportunity for the king to repent, but also judged the royal lineage, saying that no descendant of Jechoniah would sit on the throne of Israel (22:8).  (Which is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ!)

  • It may be difficult to stand for the truth of God, but it needs to be done!  Times in our own culture are going to become less and less friendly towards Christians.  But that just makes the message of the gospel even more important!  The time is now for people to be saved, and they need us to let them know the truth.

Woe to false prophets (23)
God was obviously aware of false prophets in the land, and spoke directly against them – accusing them of being evil shepherds (23:1).  There would one day be a perfect King & Shepherd (the Lord Jesus – 23:5-6), and the false shepherds would be judged.

  • Those who speak in the name of God have a responsibility to speak rightly!  We will be judged for every word!

Sign of the figs (24)
The final sign of this section demonstrates both God’s judgment and His grace.  God gave Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs: one rotten, and the other ripe.  It symbolized what God was doing with the nation.  The Jews were currently rotten figs that would be taken away, but God would make them into something wonderfully and ripe.  He wasn’t done with His people, and the work He would work within them would be truly miraculous.

  • Aren’t you glad God isn’t done with us?  The work He has begun in us, He will complete!

70 year captivity (25)
In the clearest statement yet, God tells Jeremiah that the Jewish nation would fall to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon & serve him for 70 years (25:12).  But again, this wasn’t the only promise God gave to Judah…He also promised to bring them back & punish Babylon for all of their own crimes.  Ch 25 is the prophetic explanation of Ch 24, with God affirming His love for His people, and how He would rise up on their behalf.

 

Biographical interlude #1 (26-29)
This is the first of two biographical sections in the book of Jeremiah.  That’s not to say there is no biographical information elsewhere, nor that there is no prophecy contained here.  Only that the general genre of the text is different.  This is the shorter of the sections, and shows an earlier time of ministry for Jeremiah, during one of the initial invasions of Babylon.  The final siege comes later.

Persecuted, but saved (26)
The prophet had been commanded by God to speak to His people, giving them the opportunity to repent (even if He knew they wouldn’t do it).  If they didn’t repent, judgment would come.  This obviously wasn’t a popular message, and the priests & prophets turned against Jeremiah (26:8).  To even think of defeat was bad enough, but to proclaim it as a word of God?  Inconceivable!  (But it was the truth.  The truth may be hard to hear, but it doesn’t change & it still needs to be said.)  Repeatedly, the priests & prophets called for Jeremiah’s execution, but God raised up a couple of men to speak on his behalf & he was saved.

Symbol of bonds & yokes (27)
At another point, God told Jeremiah to wear an ox-yoke, as a sign of the Babylonian slavery that was coming.  Jeremiah was to appeal to the people to bear their yoke willingly, so it would be well with them.  No one liked the idea of slavery, but if it was the will of God, they could indeed bear it.

Opposition from false prophets (28)
Once again, this message was not a popular one among the prophets.  A false prophet by the name of Hananiah broke Jeremiah’s yoke, proclaiming it to be a word from God that He had broken Babylon’s yoke off of the back of Jerusalem. (28:4)  He was specifically condemned by Jeremiah as making the people trust in a lie, and he was killed by God only two months later (28:15-17)

Jeremiah’s letters to captives (29)
Of course, the judgment of God did indeed come, and the people were taken off to Babylon.  Remember that there were several waves of Babylonian captivity (just as there were several waves of return from the same).  To the first wave, Jeremiah was able to write letters of comfort to them while he remained in Jerusalem (presumably in prison).  He told them to settle down, have children, and prepare to be there for the full time of their captivity.  They weren’t to listen to lies from the false prophets about a premature return.  What the word of God was to them, they were to believe it.  God would give them grace for the moment, and promised them a future.

  • It’s a good word for us, as well!  Nationally, we have entered into a difficult time as a people.  But while we seek the Lord, God will give us the grace we need to endure.  Hold fast to the word of God!  Trust His promises!  Just as God promised to bring Judah out, so has Jesus promised to take us out of this world by rapture.  He IS coming for His church – in the meantime, hold fast to Him in faith!

 

Book of Comfort (30-33)
Promise of restoration (30)
The false prophet Hananiah was wrong about the timing, but he was right about one thing: God would break Babylon’s yoke off of Judah.  It would just be after God’s judgment was complete (30:8)  For the moment, their affliction would seem incurable (30:12), but time would indeed bring a cure: the grace of God.  Over & over through this & the next several chapters, God promised to restore the nation to its full glory.  The Israelites would once again flourish in their homeland, and they would once again worship their God in truth. (30:22)

God’s covenant love with Israel (31)
Why would God do all of this?  Because He made a covenant promise with them.  God loved them with an everlasting love (31:3) – something far better than they could ever imagine.  And because He loved His people, He promised to bless His people.  They would be gathered from the ends of the earth (31:8) and walk in the redemption of God (31:11).  Although the immediate return of Judah to the promised land is definitely in view, ultimately it refers to the full restoration of the nation during the Millennial Kingdom.  God’s glories for Israel are far more than what they experienced under the Persians, Greeks, & Romans…His plans for them stretch into the 1000 year kingdom of Jesus Christ!

In fact, there was a new covenant coming – one far better than any they had seen under Abraham, Moses, or David.  Jeremiah 31:33–34, "(33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”"

  • The covenant that awaits Israel is the covenant we already enjoy through faith in Jesus Christ!  This is how we know the Lord: in truth, and in person.  This is the forgiveness of our sin: it is no longer remembered by God.  Praise the Lord!
  • Is this how YOU know the Lord God?  Tonight, you can!

Symbols of future return (32)
When Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon, he told them to plant fields.  For the prophet himself, God told him to buy a field in Judah (at his home of Anathoth, in Benjamin – 32:6).  Why?  Because it was a sign that the people would come back.  Yes, they needed to prepare to settle where they were, but they wouldn’t be there forever.  Their home in Babylon was temporary.  God had a different home for them altogether. 

  • Likewise here.  We live on earth, so we need to be productive on earth.  But our home is with Jesus!  We won’t always be here…

God’s commitment to His covenant (33)
Once again, God affirms that He will bring the Jews home.  He will give them health and healing (33:6), and the cities that will once be desolate will be brought back to life again (33:10-11).  God’s promises were good, and they were permanent.  Just as assuredly as the people would be taken into captivity, they could know that God would bring them out again.

  • God’s word can be trusted!

 

Biographical interlude #2 (34-45)
At this point, things are going to progress fairly quickly to the end of Jewish sovereignty.  Technically, the kingdom hadn’t really been an independent nation since the rise of the Assyrian Empire.  Even though God had protected the southern kingdom from invasion & destruction (unlike the north), the kingdom of Judah was still effectively a vassal tributary state to whichever superpower was in charge of the region.  The Jews were allowed their own national kings, but they were still subject to the whims & wishes of the emperor.  In any case, Ch 34-45 look at Jeremiah’s ministry during the years of the final king of Judah, Zedekiah & go past him to the first months following Jerusalem’s fall to Babylon.

God’s word to Zedekiah (34)
God plainly warned the king what would happen to the city of Jerusalem, and even what would happen to him personally if he refused to repent & submit to God’s judgment through Babylon.  This was one of Zedekiah’s last opportunities to follow the Lord, and he wasted it.

Good example of Rechabites (35)
This comes a little out of chronological order during an earlier timeframe & God points out the family of the Rechabites as a good example of what the Jews ought to have been doing.  The Gentile Rechabites obeyed their father & kept themselves pure.  The Jews as a whole ought to have done the same thing.  They had a thing or two they could learn from the Gentiles!

  • Unbelievers ought to never be said to live more holy than Christians.  Sadly, there are lessons we could learn about accountability & justice!

The Scroll Controversy (36)
This is likewise an event in an earlier timeframe, during the reign of Jehoiakim.  God had instructed Jeremiah to write out a series of judgment prophecies on a scroll & have it read in the hearing of the king.  It was read, and Jehoiakim was so angered by it that he took the scroll & burned it, thinking he could rid himself of God’s judgment.  Of course, God’s word is not so easily destroyed & Jeremiah wrote a second scroll & other words of judgment were added to it.

  • God’s word cannot be tampered with or destroyed.  It will not return void!

Zedekiah’s hope & Jeremiah’s imprisonment (37)
The biographies return to the chronology of the end, and show Jeremiah’s interactions with Zedekiah, the final king of Israel.  Ignoring God’s warnings to humble himself in repentance, Zedekiah reached out to politics to save him, calling upon Egypt.  God told him his strategy would be in vain, and Egypt would be defeated (and they were).

In the meantime, Jeremiah was seized on trumped-up charges & thrown into prison.  He had done nothing wrong, and appealed to the king, who did just enough to ensure Jeremiah would live, though he did nothing to free the prophet.

Jeremiah’s prison ministry (38)
Would prison walls stop the word of God?  Absolutely not!  God continued to give words to the Jews through Jeremiah, who proclaimed the coming invasion of Babylon by the will of God.  The officials tried again to shut him up, this time throwing Jeremiah into a deep dungeon, in which he was in danger of drowning in filth.  An Ethiopian eunuch was the only one to try to help Jeremiah, and he endangered himself to lift the prophet out of the muck. 

By this point, Zedekiah was willing to converse with Jeremiah, but still didn’t get the news he was looking for.  He feared men rather than the word of God & was unwilling to admit defeat, knowing that he would lose the support of the Jews.  Meanwhile, Jeremiah remained in prison & stayed there until the Babylonians came.

Jerusalem falls (39)
Just as the Lord repeatedly promised, the Babylonians came, saw, and conquered.  Jerusalem was besieged & burned, and Zedekiah was blinded and taken off as a slave, along with the rest of the noblemen & landowners.  The Babylonians left only the poor in the land, to tend to the fields.  Because of Jeremiah’s sympathetic prophecies in regards to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar specifically sent a search party to find him & bring him out of prison, and for the first time in months, Jeremiah had his freedom.  He experienced far more mercy at the hands of the Gentiles than he did at the hands of the Jews!

Gedaliah (40-41)
After Zedekiah was removed, Nebuchadnezzar installed Gedaliah as the governor (not a king & not of the line of David).  His leadership was short-lived, however.  Conspiracies quickly rose against him, and he was assassinated.  One of the few Jewish warriors left (Johanan) had warned him of the plot, but to no avail.  Johanan took leadership of the refugees, and feared the wrath of Babylon in response of what had happened to the governor.

Failed flight to Egypt (42-44)
Their fear was their downfall.  Instead of trusting the promises of God through Jeremiah that Babylon would not harm them, Johanan and the others decided to flee to Babylon.  Jeremiah tried to warn them away, but he was refused & ultimately forced to accompany them against his will.  In no small irony, the Babylonians hadn’t taken Jeremiah captive, but his fellow Jews did.  God promised that Babylon would follow them to Egypt, and there they would face judgment…and that was exactly what happened.  The Jews had lost their opportunity for peace, and their consequences were terrible.

God’s word to Baruch (45)
Jeremiah’s scribe wasn’t forgotten by God in all of this.  He understandably wondered what would happen to him, God promised that Baruch would not be killed.  His life would be a prize.  God saw him & had him right in the palm of His hands.

 

Prophecies against the Gentiles (46-51)
The book more or less ends with a series of oracles against various Gentile nations.  It’d be easy to think that God only had words of judgment against Israel, but that wasn’t the case.  God is sovereign over all of the nations, which is demonstrated in the last several chapters.  All of the neighbors of Israel would also experience the Babylonian invasion, and just as God used Babylon to judge His precious people, so would He use them to judge the Gentiles.

Egypt (46) – Spoke of the defeat that Babylon dealt to Egypt during one of the initial invasions of the south.  Their false gods would be no help to them.

Philistia (47) – The Philistines would experience the “sword of the Lord” as Babylon came in from the north.

Moab (48) – In a surprisingly long chapter, Moab is singled out as being shamed.  Jeremiah details city after city that will fall to Babylon.  They had exalted themselves against the Lord, and they would experience His wrath as a result.

Ammon (49:1-6) – The Ammonites would go into captivity, and eventually the Jews would receive some of their territory. (Millennial kingdom)

Edom (49:7-22) – The Edomites would drink of the cup of God’s wrath, and Edom would be left completely desolate.  (Perhaps looking beyond Babylon to the 2nd Coming.)

Damascus (49:23-27) – The oldest city in the world would not stand to Babylon.  They (in reference to Syria as a whole) would also fall.

Kedar & Hazor (49:28-33) – These were descendants of Ishmael, referring to nomadic people in the Arabian deserts.  They would also face Babylonian destruction.

Elam (49:34-39) – This is a reference to modern-day western Iran, which was the home of the Medes.  For now, they would be conquered by Babylon, but there was a promise of return & future power.

Babylon (50-51)
Finally, Babylon itself is proclaimed as judged.  God would use Babylon as an instrument of judgment, but they were not exempt from their crimes.  God knew exactly how they would treat His people, and He promised to judge them for it.  They would be punished & utterly destroyed.  Ultimately, there seem to be echoes here that reverberate far beyond the ancient Babylonian empire & all the way to future-Babylon of the Great Tribulation.  Babylon will indeed be thrown down, and all the world will know it is done by the hand of God!

Epilogue (52)
Fall of Jerusalem reviewed.  Very similar to the end of 2 Chronicles.  King Zedekiah is blinded & carted off – the temple is destroyed – the city is burned – the people are taken into captivity.  All seems hopeless until the very end.  The former king Jehoiachin is released from prison & given a seat at the dinner table of the Babylonian king.  A glimmer of hope is seen with a future restoration by God.

 

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