May 15, 2015.
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 32-36.
Background: Jeremiah 27-31.
Concepts and Connections.
Jeremiah buys a field: As we begin this chapter, we find Jeremiah imprisoned by the court guard because of the negative prophecies he has made against Judah and King Zedekiah. Though the word was from the Lord, the king and the people were not willing to accept it, but rather hated Jeremiah for his word. During his imprisonment, however, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin Hanamel in Anathoth, a territory of the tribe of Benjamin that was allotted to the Levites (see Joshua 21:18). Though this may seem strange, God had a point in this. So Jeremiah buys the field from his cousin in the presence of witnesses and he gives the deed to Baruch the son of Neriah and tells him to put it in a pot that would last for a long time. The significance of this action was its representation that fields and houses would once again be bought in Judah after they were delivered from captivity. Jeremiah didn’t fully understand at first, for the prophecies that he had been given to say to the people were full of sword, pestilence and famine, prophecies of destruction and desolation. He didn’t understand why God had him buy the field in a place that wouldn’t be around for much longer. But this is exactly why God had him do so, for He wanted to show Jeremiah, and any who would listen, that the captivity and destruction that He was bringing upon Judah would not last forever. The captivity and destruction had indeed been brought upon the people because of their disobedience and horrendous actions and sacrifices to other gods, but after their punishment, the Lord would again restore His people to their land and to Him. They would again be His people, and He would again be their God. Just as He brought destruction upon them, so would He bring about the promise that He made to His people. He would restore them once again to their fortunes. Note the steadfast love and mercy of the Lord, even in the midst of rejection.
Restoration and the righteous Branch: Still while Jeremiah is imprisoned by the court guard, the word of the Lord comes to him again, just as it did in the last chapter, to tell of the restoration that the Lord was planning for His people. It seems that Jeremiah is still somewhat confused as to what the Lord is doing, as he sees Judah being given over to sword, pestilence and famine and thinks that it was perpetually be a place of desolation, at least for the people of God. But the Lord assures Jeremiah that His people will once again dwell in the land and He would restore their fortunes and economy. Notice the Messianic nature of this prophecy, as the Lord goes on to talk about the righteous Branch, a way of referring to the Messiah (see Isaiah 4:2, 11:1), that He would raise up in the days when He restored His people to sit on the throne of David. Then He seals the prophecy by saying that only if His covenant with day and night were broken (in relation to their appointed times) would this thing not happen. Day and night have never ceased to be. The Lord would not reject His people, but would rather have mercy on them and restore them to their proper place.
Problems in Zedekiah’s kingdom: The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah once again to deliver a hard message to Zedekiah, king of Judah. His message was that Zedekiah would not die by the sword, but would rather be taken into captivity and die there. He would even see Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon and talk with him face to face (see II Kings 25 and II Chronicles 36). It would seem that Zedekiah at least attempted to do something right in the sight of the Lord by issuing a proclamation that all Hebrew slaves should go free and not be enslaved by their brothers any more, according to the law which said that all Hebrew slaves must be set free on the seventh year of service (see Exodus 21:2 and Deuteronomy 15:12). This proclamation, though effective at first, did not last very long, however, as the people took the slaves right back, not adhering to the word of the Lord. This angered the Lord, and for this He would give them over to sword, pestilence and famine and make them a horror to all the earth. They were on the right track for a short time, but they quickly fell back into their disobedience. Let us make sure we work not to do the same, as it can be hard not to fall back into old habits.
Failure to follow the command of God: God sends Jeremiah to the house of the Rechabites, a clan in the lineage of David (see I Chronicles 2:55), to make a point to all Judah. He tells Jeremiah to set wine before them to drink, knowing the command that Jonadab the son of Rechab, their father, commanded them that they should never drink wine throughout all their generations. When Jeremiah set the wine before them to drink, they would not drink of it, citing the command that their father had given them. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah to make His point. He wanted to show Judah what it looked like for a family to follow the command of their father, just as the Rechabites had done with the command given them by their father. They could follow their command given by an earthly father, but the house of Judah would not follow the commands given them by their Father, the Lord God Almighty. Notice the strong point He is making here. If men can follow a command of other men, even if it is their father, how much more should they be able to follow the commands given to them by their God, their spiritual Father, who is above man. Yet they wouldn’t, for they did not consider His commands to be important. Because of their folly, He was going to bring upon them the disaster that He had purposed for them. However, the Rechabites were blessed for their obedience to the command of their father, and the Lord said that they would never lack a man to stand before Him.
Jeremiah’s scrolls: Now Jehoiakim the son of Josiah was reigning as king of Judah, and the Lord tells Jeremiah to write down all the words that He has given him, from the time of Josiah until the present, in a scroll that was to be read to the house of Judah, so that they might hear and repent of their evil deeds. Jeremiah once again calls Baruch the son of Neriah (see chapter 32) to help him, since Jeremiah himself has been banned from the house of the Lord. So Baruch took dictation of all the words of Jeremiah and wrote them on a scroll. He was then sent into the house of the Lord where he read the scroll in the hearing of the men of Judah. It seems that these words did indeed cut to the hearts of some of the officials of the kingdom, as they caused it to be read in the hearing of the people. The officials told Baruch to take Jeremiah and hide while they went to the court of the king to tell him of the scroll. The king sent to get the scroll and have it read, but as it was read, he would cut it with a knife and throw it in the fire, even when some of his officials urged him not to do so. He didn’t listen to them, as he was making a statement that he didn’t care what Jeremiah had to say. The king was set against the word of Jeremiah and would have nothing to do with his prophecies, much less consider repenting of the transgressions of which he was accused. Ultimately, the burning of the scroll was a statement to God, saying he would not listen to His words. This was not good in the sight of the Lord, and Jeremiah was told to do the same thing, creating another scroll just like the first, but this time he was to add a bit at the end concerning Jehoiakim, prophesying of his death and the destruction of his house and lineage because he would not humble himself before the Lord. Jehoiakim’s pride was his downfall here. Let us not make the same mistake.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 1-2.
Fear the Lord.