Reading through the Bible together
The early verses of this chapter mention Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem and what he did to Zedekiah and to the people of Judah. King Zedekiah defended his city for more than two years, but in the eleventh year of his reign a part of the wall was broken. After he saw the Babylonian chieftains enter into the city of Jerusalem, Zedekiah and his soldiers fled from Jerusalem secretly in the night. They wanted to flee to Arabah, near Egypt, but unfortunately they were caught near Jericho. And they were taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was staying at Libra in the land of Hamath in Syria. Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah’s children and the nobles of Judah, blinded the eyes of Zedekiah, put him in bronze fetters, and had him taken to Babylon. In the meantime the Chaldeans burned the king’s palace and the houses of the Judeans with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, deported the rest of the people of Judah to Babylon, except the poor Judean farmers.
While Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, God’s message came to him regarding Ebed-Melech who had previously saved Jeremiah from the dungeon of mire without water. God guaranteed his life.
This chapter contrasts three kinds of people. Firstly, the king’s officials trusted in Egypt and hated Jeremiah. In their hearts they were wicked officials and took their stand against God. Contrastively Ebed-Melech trusted in God and wanted to save the life of Jeremiah. Apparently he was a man of good faith trusting in God. However, King Zedekiah does not belong to these two groups. He was kind enough to save Jeremiah from the hands of the officials, but he did not accept Jeremiah’s suggestion to surrender to the king of Babylon, because he trusted the strength of the Egyptian army from which the Babylonians once fled (Jeremiah 37:5). And the result of his disbelief in God was the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah 39:1-10 describes how miserable was the end of Zedekiah’s life. He could have avoided such misery if he had fully believed and obeyed God’s message through Jeremiah.
How can we avoid being like King Zedekiah and his officials? Are we listening and obeying God’s voice through His messenger sincerely or are we judging the situation according to worldly standards?
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan