May 1, 2015.
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 22-26.
Background: Jeremiah 17-21.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Judah given a choice: The Lord sends Jeremiah on a mission to go speak to the king of Judah and give him a choice, an opportunity to turn things around that the Lord might relent from His wrath that He is about to pour out on Judah, sending them into Babylonian captivity. He comes with a message that Judah should do justice and righteousness, delivering the oppressed and the poor (two groups of people who are often the subject of needed justice in prophecy), and turn from their wicked ways. If they would listen to this word, God would establish the physical Dravidic kingdom linage through Judah as long as the earth stood. However, if they would not listen to the word of God, they were going to become a desolation before God. The Lord would set the Babylonians against them and not fight for them, and all those who passed by would see that they had turned away from their God and had ensued destruction because of it. The people of Judah were given a choice, a choice that they didn’t really deserve. However, they would not take advantage of the opportunity God was giving them here.
2. Judgment against the kings: The oracle of the Lord was turned to the kings that reigned in Judah, pronouncing judgment on them for their evil deeds. The time period that this message is being brought to Judah is just after the reign of Josiah, who had begun to reign over Judah when he was eight years old and brought Judah back to the Lord, having a revival for the law and the passover (see II Chronicles 34-35). Josiah’s sons, however, did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, and for this they would bring destruction and captivity upon all of Judah, just as her sister Israel had done. A great lament would go up after the kings of Judah when the people of God saw the destruction they had brought on themselves and on the land for not listening to the word of the Lord, even when He had given them ample opportunity. Now He was sending them into a land they did not know, under then hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. In the end, the Lord gives a specific oracle concerning Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, who would have been next in line to reign, that he would not succeed in having his children carry on the royal linage on the throne (see also Jeremiah 36:30). This statement need not be underestimated, as it was God’s ultimate judgment on the physical Davidic reign in Judah. The children of Israel would no longer maintain a physical kingdom like they once had, though the spiritual kingdom of Israel would be set up with Jesus reigning as King through the David’s linage (see Daniel 2:44, Matthew 4:7, 16:18-19 and Colossians 1:12-14).
1. The righteous Branch: Much of this chapter is devoted to denouncing the lying prophets and shepherds of the people. The spiritual leaders were leading the people astray, and this was not well pleasing to God, and because of this, they were going to be lead into capitative. The Lord, however, would eventually deliver the remnant of the people from captivity, and He would set shepherds over them who would lead them into righteousness and the way of the Lord. He would raise up the righteous Branch, out of David, the Messiah to save the people and reign in His kingdom forever (see also Daniel 2:44). This is a prophecy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is now reigning (see Matthew 4:7, 16:18-19 and Colossians 1:12-14). The deliverance would be so great that it would be a new comparison point. Whereas the children of Israel had always looked to the Exodus as a penultimate example of God’s deliverance, after the deliverance from captivity and the establishment of the eternal kingdom, a new reference point would be made. Now, thousands of years later, this kingdom is still alive and active.
2. Lying prophets: After the Messianic prophecy, Jeremiah turns his attention to the prophets of the people, those who were prophesying lies that the Lord had not given them to prophesy. These lying prophets broke Jeremiah’s heart, for they were misleading the people. They were telling them that everything was fine, tickling their ears with pleasant words that were easy to hear. It is no wonder that they would not listen to Jeremiah. His message was rough and hard, and it was not pleasant to the ears or the heart. They were filling the hearts of the people with vain hopes, and it hurt Jeremiah that he could not get through to them. He saw the damage that the prophets were doing and he knew that it was going to be nearly impossible to actually change the hearts and the minds of the people, that they would be inclined to listen to the truth. God was very displeased with the false prophets. They had run when He did not tell them to run, and told of visions that He did not send. In verse 24, God makes a statement about His omnipresence, saying that He fills both heaven and earth, so that there could be no hiding from Him. Because of this, He knows what the prophets have said, He has heard their lies and how they have mislead the people. For these lies, He is going to destroy the false prophets, for they went out and said “thus declares the Lord,” when the Lord had not declared. Let us not fall into this same ideology, speaking for God where God has not spoken.
Vision of the figs: The Lord shows Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs, one that had figs that were good to eat and another that had rotten figs that were not good to eat, to symbolize the two types of people amongst the children of Israel. On those who were the good figs, who listened to the word of God and gave themselves up into captivity (see Jeremiah 21:8-10) on whom the Lord would have His eye and would deliver at the end of the appointed time of captivity, saving the remnant. However, on the bad figs, those who resisted and stayed in the land, the Lord would send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them on them so that they would be destroyed. The Lord would indeed fulfill this vision in the full.
1. 70 years of captivity: Often we forget about the time span in which the different oracles in the books of the prophets (or the time span of any of the writings of scripture, for that matter) were written because we read them as one continuous story. However, these oracles were made at different times, often with long spans of time in between. It had been 23 years since Jeremiah first started prophesying, and though all this time of telling the people not to fall away and turn to other gods, they would not listen. We can see God’s long-suffering and patience with His people here, giving them so much time to repent and turn from their ways. Yet they would not, and because they would not repent, God was going to send them into captivity for 70 years. After this 70 years, He would then turn His wrath towards the king of Babylon and that wicked nation, punishing them for their iniquity and how they had treated the children of Israel during their captivity. Though He had raised up the Babylonians for a purpose, that did not mean that they were righteous, nor did it exempt them from their transgressions. The Lord would visit their transgressions when the time came for it.
2. The Lord’s wrath: Even though He has been dealing specifically with His people throughout most of these oracles, God tells Jeremiah here to go to all the nations that He tells him to and make them drink of the cup of His wrath, for He is going to visit them for their transgressions as well. He asks that if His own people are being punished for their wickedness, how should the other nations, who did not serve Him in the first place, escape punishment? They were in no position to bargain with God, and they would certainly drink of the cup of His wrath. What a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God (see Hebrews 10:31).
Persecution and deliverance: The Lord sends Jeremiah once again into the house of the Lord in order to give the people yet another chance at obeying the Lord and making things right so that He might relent from the destruction that He has determined against them. However, when the officials, priests and prophets heard the word of Jeremiah, how God was going to make the house of Judah a desolation, they gathered together and decided that Jeremiah deserved a death sentence for his words against Judah. Even after this, Jeremiah is still trying to get through to them, assuring them that he was sent by the Lord and that they need to listen to his words. He did not even care about his own life at this point, telling them that they could do whatever seemed good to them with him (though he did tell them the consequence that would come upon them if they did decide to put him to death). He wanted them to hear the message. It seems that something he said finally penetrated a little bit, even if it was out of fear, for after he told them the consequences of putting him to death, they swiftly changed their minds. They even remembered a bit of history, how there were kings before them that heard harsh words from prophets and rather than putting them to death, they heeded the warning/humbled themselves and the Lord relented from the disaster he was going to bring upon them (see Mica 3:12 and II Chronicles 32:24-26). Thus, they used reasoning and history and decided Jeremiah should not be put to death. He was delivered from the hand of the people specifically by Ahikam the son of Shaphan (see II Kings 22:11-20).
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Corinthians 10-13.
The Lord bless you and keep you.