Reading through the Bible together
Jeremiah in this particular chapter had dealings with Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, in the 9th year of his reign. Before this, Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Zedekiah as king of Judah (v. 1). But he and his staff and the people of Judah did not “listened to the Words of the Lord which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet” (v. 2).
When people are sick and they do not want to use the medicine offered for healing, what can the Doctor do? King Zedekiah sent two men, Jehucal and Zephaniah (whose father was a priest) to ask Jeremiah: “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf” (v. 3). It was the time that Pharaoh with his army planned to come to Jerusalem. When the Babylonians around Jerusalem heard of the coming of Pharaoh they backed off a bit (v. 5).
Zedekiah had false hope of success but God told Jeremiah that the Egyptians will return to their own land (v. 7). Zedekiah and his people missed the point that one should not place once hope in politics but rather in a God who knows the end from the beginning.
The Babylonians are going to return and burn Jerusalem (v. 8). The burning of the city is a fixed reality (v. 9-10). When the Babylonians made a slight concession, to let Jeremiah go to Benjamin to take possession of family property there (v. 12), a captain of the police saw him and thought that he was going to do something for the Babylonians (v. 13). He sent his false accusation to his administrators and they were so angry that they beat innocent Jeremiah wrongly (v. 14-15). They put him in a prison cell in the house of Jonathan the scribe (v. 15). For many days Jeremiah had to stay in this dungeon cell (v. 16).
Then King Zedekiah took him out of prison and brought him to the palace and asked him quietly whether there was a word from the Lord (v. 17). There was. “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon.” Jeremiah then spoke about the unfair justice system of Zedekiah and his men and told them that he has done no wrong and yet he is cast into a prison (v. 18).
He asked king Zedekiah where his prophets are that said Babylon would never come (v. 19). He petitioned the king not to put him in prison again (v. 20). So King Zedekiah asked that he be kept in the court of the guardhouse and given a loaf of bread daily from the baker’s street (v. 21).
For a slight moment, King Zedekiah thought that if he is kind to a prophet of the Lord, maybe the Lord will be kind to him. But this kindness, was to be short lived.
“Dear God, Your prophets and their appeals to us daily to render ourselves totally and unconditionally to Your service. For many it is heavy for the ear for it is also heavy for the heart, just like Zedekiah. Help us to surrender to Your instructions before it is too late. Amen.”
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National UniversitySangju, South Korea