No Deliverance from Babylon
Chapters 21-24 narrate the end of the Davidic dynasty, making it clear that disaster and exile are God’s judgment on the sins of Judah’s kings and people. Jeremiah denounces false prophets who lead the people astray, but also sounds a note of hope as God promises to gather a remnant of His people from captivity under the leadership of “a righteous Branch” from David’s house (Jeremiah 23:3-8). The twin messages of judgment and future restoration are repeated in Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets of figs (chapter 24). (The Reformation Bible)
Judah and Jerusalem did not fall in one decisive battle; it happened in stages.
- · About 17 years before this Nebuchadnezzar first came to Jerusalem in the reign of King Jehoiakim and subjugated the city and took captives from the best and the brightest of Judah, such as Daniel (about 605 b.c.).
- · About 10 years before this, Nebuchadnezzar came again in the reign of King Jehoiachin and carried away the treasures of Jerusalem taking more captives (such as Ezekiel), and he deposed King Jehoiachin (about 598 b.c.). He then put Zedekiah on the throne as a puppet king.
- · By the time of Jeremiah 21 King Zedekiah’s reign was almost over; Nebuchadnezzar returned a third time to destroy the city of Jerusalem and carry away the remaining people of Judah (about 586 b.c.).
The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, 2 “Please speak to the Lord for us and ask him to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking Judah. Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”
In about 588 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem because Zedekiah, the king of Judah and a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, had rebelled against Babylon. Zedekiah has been invited back to the Lord, and warned about judgment, so many times, to no avail! Now that things are so bad, he might think, maybe the Lord could help?
3 Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, 4 ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside your walls attacking you. In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious! 6 I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die. 7 And after all that, says the Lord, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies. He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’
The Lord proclaims his power in war, here horrifyingly turned against his people.
8 “Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death! 9 Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! 10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’
Judgment on Judah’s Kings
11 “Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord! 12 This is what the Lord says to the dynasty of David:
“‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge!
Help those who have been robbed;
rescue them from their oppressors.
Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
13 I will personally fight against the people in Jerusalem,
that mighty fortress—
the people who boast, “No one can touch us here.
No one can break in here.”
14 And I myself will punish you for your sinfulness,
says the Lord.
I will light a fire in your forests
that will burn up everything around you.’”
The kings on the throne of Judah proved to be faithless, unfair, sinful. But we have a Father-King on the throne in Heaven who can be utterly depended upon to be just and true and pure. HERE is Selah and “Before the Throne of God Above.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.