This time shall we turn to Jeremiah chapter 36 as we continue our journey through the Word of God towards heaven.
Now as we have pointed out, the prophecies of Jeremiah are not in chronological order but they sort of skip around, and so it is important at the beginning of each chapter where Jeremiah locates for you the time and usually the place of the prophecy so that you’ll be able to fit it more into the historic events. Because you just can’t read Jeremiah in a chronological order, it isn’t written that way. So in chapter 36, we have the prophecy of Jeremiah that came to him.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim [who was] the son of Josiah the king of Judah, that this is the word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah, saying, Now take thee a scroll of a book, and write therein all of the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even until this day (36:1-2).
Now, you remember he was called to prophesy in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. He prophesied on through the death of Josiah, about fifteen years later, and now four years later in the son of Jehoiakim or the son of Josiah, Jehoiakim’s reign, God commands him to write all of the prophecies on this scroll that I’ve given you up till now. So it was no doubt quite a task to go back and to rehearse all of the Word of the Lord that had come to Jeremiah during this approximately twenty-year period.
The Lord declares,
It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin (36:3).
Now the purpose of giving to them the Word of the Lord was to turn them from sin. God is constantly giving to man the opportunity of repenting, of turning from his sin. God said through Ezekiel the prophet, “Turn ye, turn ye for why will you die, saith the Lord? Behold, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11). Now here God again is saying, “Write it all down. It may be that they will turn from their sins in order that I might forgive them their iniquities and their sins.” God glories in forgiveness. God delights to forgive you all of your sins. All He wants is just an excuse, and you provide Him that excuse by asking Him. God is really more desirous to forgive us of our sins than usually we are to be forgiven. Quite often we with David, as he describes his experience in Psalm 32, seek to cover our sins. We seek to hide our sins from the Lord. We just seek not to mention it, you know. Just sort of keep silent about it. But as David said, “When I sought to cover my sins, man, there was a constant roaring within. And I began to just dry up. I became just dried spiritually. Then I said, ‘I will confess my sin unto the Lord,” and he said, “and Thou forgavest me all my iniquities” (Psalm 32:3-5).
Now in the Hebrew as that reads, the moment David in his heart said, “I’m going to confess,” before he could ever get the words out of his lips, just that change of the attitude in his heart, “and Thou forgavest me.” That’s all God’s looking for, just the change in the attitude of your heart. “Oh God, I’m sorry. I’m going to confess to You my sins. I’m going to get right with God.” Before you can get out of your mouth, you’re already right with God. God is just looking for that change towards Him. The moment in your heart you have that turn towards God, “I’m going to just turn it over to God, I’m just going to turn,” just in that moment God begins His work of cleansing, forgiving, pardoning. God delights to forgive us our sins.
And so the purpose of the Word of God to these people, “Write it all down, give it to them. That they might hear all of the evil indictments that I have against them and the evil that I am purposing to do to them. Maybe if they know the judgment that is coming they will turn.”
Then Jeremiah called Baruch [who was] the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon this scroll of a book. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, Now I am shut up (36:4-5);
That is, he was in prison.
I cannot go into the house of the LORD: Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which you have written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities (36:5-6).
Now they had proclaimed a fast. They invited the people to come for this time of fasting. And usually a time of fasting is associated with a time of seeking the Lord. A very appropriate time for the Word of God to come to the people. And so Jeremiah commanded Baruch, who is the scribe, to write all of the words in the book and then go and read them in the house of the Lord when that day of fasting came and people were gathering from all over Judah to worship the Lord.
It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and they will return every man from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people. So Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, and he read the book of the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house. And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah the king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem. Then Baruch read in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house, in the ears of all the people. Now when Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD, Then he went down into the king's house, into the scribe's chamber: and all of the princes were sitting there (36:7-12),
And it gives the names of these various princes.
And Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people. Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah (36:13-14),
And all of these names are worthless to us.
unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll [or the scroll] wherein you have read in the ears of the people, and come (36:14).
So Baruch was down there reading it and this young fellow heard him reading, ran and told the princes who were there in the house of the scribes what this guy was reading to the people. And they said, “Well, you better get him down here.” So he ran back and got Baruch and he said, “Come with me and read the scroll to these fellows down here.”
And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears. Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, that they were both afraid one and another, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words. And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How did you write all these words at his mouth? And Baruch answered them, [he said,] He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book (36:15-18).
How do you think?
Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, you and Jeremiah; and don’t let any body know where you are (36:19).
Now we’re going to take this to the king and you guys better go hide.
So they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king. So the king sent Jehudi to Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in his winter quarters in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four of the leaves, that he cut it with his penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until the whole scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all of these words (36:20-24).
Rather than fearing the Lord, rather than repenting, rather than as was the custom when they really were repenting before God often they would rip their clothes as a sign of great repentance and sorrow, none of that.
Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the scroll: but he would not listen to them. But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them. Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the scroll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, and the LORD said to him, Take thee again another scroll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; You have burned this scroll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim the king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. Then took Jeremiah another scroll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides to those many like words (36:25-32).
And so more or less as a record of God’s truth, these scrolls were written of that Word of God in the warning of the people of the evil and the judgment that would come upon them if they would not forsake their sins and follow after the Lord. But Jehoiakim the king, showing his disdain for the Word of God, took his penknife, cut it up and threw it in the fire. But prophets of God are not silenced that easy, so Jeremiah got another scroll, wrote the whole thing down again adding other words to it. And, of course, these are the prophecies basically that we have been reading in the book of Jeremiah. These are the copies of these various scrolls, the pages that were written, the various words that God gave to Jeremiah concerning His judgment that was coming upon Judah using the Babylonian army as God’s instrument of judgment.
Now we come to the third part of the book of Jeremiah and this covers the period of Zedekiah the king. These particular prophecies, thirty-seven through thirty-nine, cover from the time that Zedekiah ascended to the throne unto his captivity in Babylon. So he again gives us the time of the prophecy.
And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah (37:1).
So Zedekiah was king under the order of Nebuchadnezzar. When Jehoiakim died, you remember Jeremiah said, “There won’t be any of your family sitting upon the throne.” Well, one of his sons, Jehoiachim, sought for a time to sit upon the throne. He lasted for three months and Nebuchadnezzar came back and deposed him and Nebuchadnezzar set up Zedekiah as the king over Judah so that Jehoiakim was not succeeded by his own children. And the Word of the Lord was fulfilled. “Who Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon made king over the land of Judah.”
But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, would hearken unto the words of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah (37:2).
People had closed their ears to the warning of God. Zedekiah refused to listen. He would listen privately. He would call Jeremiah and talk to him privately, but then publicly he would denounce him.
And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the LORD our God for us. Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not yet put him into prison. Then Pharaoh's army had come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem (37:3-5).
Now the Babylonian army was there, but when they heard that the Egyptian army was coming the Babylonian army withdrew. They withdrew their men from Jerusalem.
Then came the word of the LORD to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, will return to Egypt into their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. Thus saith the LORD; Don’t deceive yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart (37:6-9).
Now the people thought, “Oh, we’re free, you know, from the Chaldeans. The Egyptian army has frightened them off. They’ve gone. Now we can do our own thing. Now we can be independent of Babylon. Now we won’t have to pay tribute.” And they rebelled against the Babylonian authority. But Jeremiah warned them against this. He said, “Don’t think that you’re free of them, they’re going to return again.”
For though you had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans (37:10)
Even if you had wiped out the whole army.
and there were only a few wounded men left (37:10),
God has determined to deliver you unto the Chaldeans. And just a few wounded men would be able to take you and they’ll burn this city with fire.
So it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself from the midst of the people (37:11-12).
So Jeremiah started to take off and go up to Benjamin but,
As he was in the gate of Benjamin (37:13),
One of the gates of Jerusalem at that time.
a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, You’re going over [to the Babylonians] to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, That is not true; I am not going over to the Chaldeans. But this captain would not listen to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him before the princes. When the princes were angry with Jeremiah, they smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe; for they had made that a prison. When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there for many days (37:13-16);
So they imprisoned Jeremiah thinking that he was going to go over to the Babylonians. Jeremiah declared that wasn’t his intention, but yet they made him a prisoner anyhow to keep him from that.
Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out; and the king asked him secretly in the house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. Moreover Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, What have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison? Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon will not come against you, nor against this land? (37:17-19)
There were prophets that said, “The Babylonians will never come into this land.” He said, “Where are those prophets now that gave you that story?”
Therefore hear now, I pray thee, O my lord the king: let my prayer, I pray thee, be accepted before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there (37:20).
Please don’t send me back to that prison. I’ll die there if you do. He was put there in the prison at the house of Jonathan the scribe.
Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison (37:21),
Let us not put him back in the dungeon.
and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city was spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison (37:21).
Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying (38:1),
Jeremiah said to all the people,
Thus saith the LORD, He that remains in this city shall die by the sword, or the famine, or the pestilence: but he that shall surrender to the Chaldeans will live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it. Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let’s put this man to death: for he is weakening the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all of the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man is seeking not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king can do nothing against you. Then they took Jeremiah, and cast him in the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire (38:2-6).
Very graphic, sad picture of a man who is being punished for doing the will of God. The Bible speaks about being punished for doing good. If you take it well, then surely God dwells in you. Many times we are punished for doing evil. There’s no credit or value of taking that well. But if when you are doing good you suffer for it and you take it well, then that gives some real proof of the Christian experience. You see, it is possible to suffer according to the will of God or it is possible to suffer as the result of doing the will of God. It is wrong to think that because you are a child of God that somehow God is going to miraculously spare you from trouble. That you won’t have any problems because you surrendered your life to the Lord. That is not true. As a child of God, we are exposed to the wrath of this world that is stored up against God. Now they cannot strike God so they strike God’s representatives. The world does not want to hear the truth of God. And if you dare to speak the truth of God, the world will hate you.
Jesus said if you were of the world then the world would love you. But you are not of the world. You’re a threat to the world. They don’t want to hear the truth of God’s Word. Especially do they not want to hear of the coming judgment of God against the wicked. And that’s the message that Jeremiah was declaring. “God is going to judge you for your iniquities. The judgment of God is coming. There’s no sense trying to defend yourself against the Babylonians because God has already determined to give you into their hands. And if you try to defend yourself, you’re only going to die either by the sword or the pestilence or the famine. Now if you’ll surrender, you’ll live. You’ll be saved alive. But if you resist, they’re going to kill you.” Now these men said, “Hey, king, that’s treasonous. You see, he is demoralizing all of the army. These guys aren’t wanting to fight because he’s demoralizing them, telling them they’re going to get beat. Now, we ought to kill him.” And Zedekiah said, “Well, he’s in your hands. I won’t do anything against you.” So they grabbed Jeremiah and let him down in this dungeon. And in the bottom of the dungeon, no water, just this mire. And Jeremiah began to sink in this mire.
Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king was sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spoke to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is likely to die there for hunger where he is: for there is no more bread in the city. Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take with you thirty men, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he dies. So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and they went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under your armpits there. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with the cords (38:7-13),
He was no doubt stuck in the mud in the bottom and so they had to, made sort of a sling and put it under his arms and all with the rotten rags so it wouldn’t hurt him too bad. And then the cords underneath, and they gently lifted him out of this mire into which he had sunk there in the bottom of the dungeon.
and so they took him out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained there in the court of the prison. Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask you a thing; now don’t hide anything from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto you, will you not surely put me to death? and if I give you counsel, you won’t listen to me anyhow (38:13-15).
Why do you want me to tell you anything? If I tell you the truth you’ll put me to death. If I tell you what’s really happening, you’re not going to listen anyhow, so what’s the use?
So Zedekiah the king swore secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek your life (38:16).
So Zedekiah made a covenant with Jeremiah that he would neither kill him nor turn him over to the men who wanted to kill him.
Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If you will assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then your soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and you shall live, and your house (38:17):
You and your whole house will be able to live if you’ll just go over and surrender. If you’ll just go out and surrender to them, you’ll be able to live and your whole family.
But if you will not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you will not escape out of their hand. And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that have fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me. But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beg thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live (38:18-20).
So here is Jeremiah pleading with Zedekiah. “Now look, they won’t deliver you to the Jews. I beg you, listen to what God has to say. Obey the Lord, it’s for your own good.”
To me it is always strange that people will reject God’s truth. So many times we find ourselves in a position of seeing what’s happening. Seeing what’s going to happen. Seeing the path that a person is on and knowing that it’s a path of destruction. And we beg them, “Look, don’t do that.” And you hear all of these lame excuses that they have for going on in their sin. And you can see how it’s destroying them. And you plead and you beg, but they won’t hearken. Oh, how sad and tragic that is when people turn a deaf ear to the voice of God. When people refuse to hearken to the warnings that God sends. What’s left? If you won’t listen to God, if you won’t listen to the warning of God, what’s left? God has left no alternative. He must then bring His judgment against the wicked. He gives man every opportunity to turn. He sends His servants to plead with men to turn. And if they refuse the voice of God, God has left no choice. There comes, then, that certain judgment of God against the unrighteous and the ungodly.
Jeremiah said, “If you will go, it will be well with you and you will live.”
But if you refuse to go, this is the word that the LORD has showed me: And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house will be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back. So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire. Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Don’t let any man know these words, and you will not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come unto you, and say unto you, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, don’t hide it from us, and we will not put you to death; also what did the king said unto you: Then you shall say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there (38:21-26).
“Just tell them that you asked me not to send you back to Jonathan’s house,” which Jeremiah did ask the king. He said, “Please don’t send me back to Jonathan’s house lest I die there.” So the king said, “If they ask you what you said to me, just tell them that you asked me not to send you back to Jonathan’s house,” which thing Jeremiah did ask him.
Then all of the princes came unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived (38:27).
Jeremiah didn’t tell them all the truth, but told them a truth, but not all of the truth.
So Jeremiah remained there in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken (38:28).
God gave every opportunity unto Zedekiah to spare himself and the people if he would only listen and obey the voice of God.
Now in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and began their siege. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month (39:1-2),
Or sixteen months later.
the ninth day of the month, the city was destroyed (39:2).
They were under siege for sixteen months. When the disease began to ravage the city, the pestilence, many died from the disease. Famine began to grip them. Many died of starvation. It was sixteen months of horror. And then the walls were broken down. The Babylonian army came in with the sword and began to slay the people.
And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, [and the names of these] princes of the king of Babylon. And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and they went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate between the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain (39:3-4).
So Zedekiah tried to escape. Seeing that all was lost, he, with some of his men, sought to escape. Now there are some legends that he escaped through what is known as Solomon’s Quarries. And there are some stories, though unconfirmed, that Solomon’s Quarries go for several miles and have an exit out in the Judaean wilderness. That has never been confirmed, but there are persisting stories that this indeed is so. However it was, Zedekiah did try to escape going down towards Jericho.
But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho (39:5):
Some seventeen, eighteen miles from Jerusalem.
and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him (39:5).
So they brought him to Nebuchadnezzar. Now Nebuchadnezzar had set him up as the king. He was a vassal king under Nebuchadnezzar. Now, of course, he had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar so now Nebuchadnezzar pronounced his judgments.
So the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon (39:6-7).
So the tragic end of Zedekiah. He watched his children being slain by the Babylonians. Watched them slay his nobles. All of this could have been averted. Jeremiah said, “If you’ll just surrender, your family will be saved.” The man would not hearken to the Word of the Lord. He was rebelling against God’s warnings. And thus, what God declared did happen.
Now there was an interesting prophecy concerning Zedekiah that he would go to Babylon but not see it. Of course, it says, “Thou shalt not see Babylon.” That prophecy, interestingly enough, was fulfilled. People thought that they were saying, you know, “You won’t go to Babylon.” But the prophecy says, “You won’t see Babylon.” He went to Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar had put out his eyes so he never saw it.
And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem (39:8).
It is very interesting that at the present time, an archaeologist, Dr. Shiloh, is excavating now the ruins of Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah when Zedekiah was the king, those ruins that were destroyed by the Babylonian army. They were actually uncovering the very houses that were destroyed by this siege. And they find the houses, like the Scripture says, burned with fire. They find the walls broken down and the rubble within. And when they came back from the seventy years of Babylonian exile, they did not rebuild the old houses but just covered them over and built on top of them. So the old houses are still lying as they are digging now, lying in ruins. The walls broken in, signs of the fire and so forth, and the archaeologist’s spade under the direction of Dr. Shiloh is graphically proving the story that we are reading tonight here in Jeremiah.
And you maybe read the little flap lately about the rabbis, the orthodox rabbis in Israel who were objecting to the diggings that are going on saying that they were digging in a graveyard. And on the news the other night they showed the police chasing some of these guys with the curls, the orthodox and radicals from the site of the excavations where Dr. Shiloh is excavating. This is the very spot. He is excavating now the very houses that were destroyed by the Babylonian army.
The interesting thing, that as they are uncovering these houses, they are finding in each of these houses multitudes of little gods, idols. The very thing for which God said His judgment was coming upon the people because they had turned to him and were worshipping idols. And they are uncovering just troves of these idols in these little…and the houses that they are uncovering now there in Jerusalem. I talked with Dr. Shiloh concerning these excavations. Hope to visit the sites when I take the pastors over to Israel in December and then again when we go in February with you that would like to go to Israel with us.
So God’s Word came to pass. “The Chaldeans burned the king’s house.” Of course, they’re looking for the palace now. They haven’t found it yet. “The houses of the people, with fire, they broke down the walls of Jerusalem.”
Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away the captives into Babylon the remaining of the people that remained in the city [the remnant that remained], and those that had fallen away, that fell to him, and the rest of the people that remained. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and he gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and treat him well, don’t do him any harm; but do unto him whatever he asks you (39:9-12).
Now Nebuchadnezzar was aware that Jeremiah was telling these people to surrender. He was aware that he was speaking God’s truth to the people, so Nebuchadnezzar gave an order, he said, “Treat him well. Let him do whatever he wants. If he wants to come to Babylon, we’ll set him up in a nice home. We’ll take care of him there. If he wants to stay in the land, let him remain in the land. Let him do whatever he wants, but treat him right.”
So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and [these other princes], they took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he would carry him home: so he dwelt among the people (39:13-14).
Actually, he had been taken already in chains, but they came and they got him and brought him back.
Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian (39:15-16),
Remember this is the guy that lifted him out of the miry mud, the mire in the bottom of that dungeon. “Go to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian.”
saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee; because thou hast put your trust in me, saith the LORD (39:16-18).
So here was this Ethiopian eunuch who had helped Jeremiah out of that pit, dungeon, and Jeremiah went to him and said, “Look, the Lord says that you don’t have to be afraid of the Babylonians. Your life is going to be spared because you put your trust in the Lord.” So his life indeed was spared.
Now as we come into the fourth part of the book of Jeremiah, these are the prophecies of Jeremiah to the people after Zedekiah was carried away and the remnant of the people who stayed here in the land. They still did not take everybody. Remember he left the poor people in the land to just have the land. Take over the vineyards and everything else and you can just have it. So the poor of the people, the poor people were given the land. So this Jeremiah remained with them, and this is the word that the Lord that came to Jeremiah.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah (40:1),
Now Ramah is Ramalah, which is only about five miles from Jerusalem. So Jeremiah had been taken by the Babylonians and was being led and the message came from Nebuchadnezzar, “Hey, let him do whatever he wants.” And so they released him and he was able to come back. So they let him go from Ramah.
when he had taken him being bound in chains among those that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon (40:1).
So he was bound in chains with the rest of those that they were leading back to Babylon. Wouldn’t that be a sad and terrible journey? Talk about some of these death marches and so forth, to go to Babylon from Jerusalem about 200 miles or so, and in chains. Oh, and here the prophet had said, “Hey look, just go over to them. Surrender, go on out, sneak out, give yourself over to them and you’ll be okay.” And yet the people chose to rebel and against the word of the Lord and against the Babylonians, and now the consequences.
And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. Now the LORD hath brought it, and he has done according as he has said (40:2-3):
Always true. God will always keep His word. He has done as He said.
because you have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you (40:3).
Now, it is interesting that the enemies of Judah recognized the reason for their problems and difficulties. “God has done this to you because you didn’t obey Him.”
And now, behold, I am loosing thee this day from the chains which are on your hands. And if it seems good unto you to come with me to Babylon, come on; and I will look unto your well being: but if it doesn’t seem good to you to come with me into Babylon, then you don’t have to: behold, all of the land is before you: and wherever it seems good and convenient for thee to go, there you can go (40:4).
So Jeremiah was given a totally free reign. “Come on to Babylon, we’ll treat you well. Stay here if you want. Just wherever you want to go, the whole land is before you, you can go where you want.”
Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto you to go. So the captain of the guard gave him food and a reward, and they let him go. Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land. Now when all the captains of the forces which were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, of those that were not carried away captive to Babylon; Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan [and these various captains], and they came with their men. And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you (40:5-9).
So Gedaliah was being faithful to the responsibilities given to him by Nebuchadnezzar, encouraging the people, “Don’t rebel any more. Just live and dwell in the land. It’s going to be all right.”
As for me, behold, I am going to dwell here at Mizpah, and serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but you, gather your wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken (40:10).
Now Jerusalem was left desolate. It had been so destroyed by the Babylonians. No sense of even trying to go back there with the poor people that he had. So just dwelling in Mizpah instead, and you men dwell in the cities that you have.
Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab [across the Jordan River from them], and among the Ammonites, and those that were in Edom [south from Moab], and those that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan; Even all the Jews returned out of every place whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and they gathered wine and summer fruits very great. Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and said unto him, Do you not certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to kill you? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them. Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray you, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man will know it: for why should he slay you, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant that are in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, You shall not do this thing: for you are speaking falsely of Ishmael (40:11-16). May God help us to give heed to the Word of God and to the warnings of God. Jesus said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church” (Revelation 2:7). And may God give to us ears to hear and a heart that will respond unto the Lord. May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord guide you in your activities this week. May the hand of the Lord be upon your life for good that He might bless you. In Jesus' name.