Today we finish the book of Jeremiah. What we started 57 lessons ago in January of 2016 we will Lord willing finish today!
We spent the last two lessons on God’s promise to destroy proud Babylon in chapters 50 and 51. But last time we ended at verse 58 of chapter 51. So we’ll pick up there today.
Conveying the Message to Babylon
Now, what we heard so far in chapters 50 and 51 has been the content of what God wanted to communicate about Babylon. But now that the content of the message has been communicated, that message needs to be conveyed. And that’s what happens in verses 59 through 64.
KJV Jeremiah 51:59 ¶ The [word/message/order] which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the [grand…] son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign [582 BC…]. And this Seraiah was [a quiet prince/a quartermaster].
So, Seraiah was a man who was in charge of housing – a quartermaster. He’s the son of Neriah and therefore the brother of Baruch – Jeremiah’s scribe.
And now, we know that Baruch wasn’t very popular with the ruling class in Judah because of his association with Jeremiah, the unpopular prophet who kept denouncing those folks. But Baruch’s brother was not at all like Baruch in that way. We see Seraiah accompanying King Zedekiah on an official trip to Babylon.
Now, the timeframe is 582 BC. That’s about 6 years before Babylon pays Zedekiah a rather unpleasant visit – in order to invade and exile Judah and King Zedekiah. But, apparently at this point Zedekiah was still obedient to Babylon and all was well.
60 So Jeremiah wrote in a [book/single scroll] all the [evil/calamity/judgments] that [should/would] come upon Babylon,
[even/that is] all these words that [are/have been] written against Babylon.
Which we saw in chapters 50 and 51, I might add!
61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah,
[When thou/As soon as you] comest to Babylon, [and shalt/then] see[, and shalt/to it that you] read all these [words/prophecies];
So, Seraiah was going to speak these words from chapters 50 and 51 in Babylon when he got there.
To whom was he to speak? We don’t know. Maybe in an open place with people listening. Maybe to the king of Babylon. Maybe to no one. I tend to think it was somewhere along the Euphrates River as we’ll see a hint in verse 63. But was anyone there to hear it? We don’t know.
But when Seraiah reads chapters 50 and 51 then this…
62 Then shalt thou say,
O LORD, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever.
That’s what Seraiah is to say. Then we see what Seraiah is to do.
63 And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading [aloud…] this [book/scroll], that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates:
Then Seraiah is commanded to say one more thing.
64 ¶ And thou shalt say,
[Thus/In the same way] shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise [from/because of] the [evil/calamity/judgments] that I will bring upon her: and they shall [be weary/grow faint/become exhausted].
So, those were Seraiah’s commands.
We don’t see how he actually did or did not do what he was told. But this was what God wanted him to do.
Anyone in Babylon who saw or heard the message and the associated object lesson would have gotten God’s message to that nation.
And with that we see the last phrase of verse 64.
[Thus far are the words of Jeremiah/The prophecies of Jeremiah end here].
It’s not to say that only the first 51 chapters of this book are breathed out by God. It’s just that chapter 52 features no words of Jeremiah. Actually, Jeremiah is nowhere to be found in chapter 52.
In order to have written the account found in chapter 52, Jeremiah would have been in his late sixties when he wrote it. I’ll give my reasons for saying that later on. But the point is that Jeremiah very likely wrote even this last chapter of his book.
Vindication of Jeremiah’s Ministry
With that assumption, we’ll move into chapter 52 – where we basically see a vindication of Jeremiah’s entire ministry.
The Lord had Jeremiah predict punishment for everyone who refused to submit to God’s authority. For decades so many people doubted that message. But in the end it was God and his faithful prophet who – of course – were right.
The scene is set in verses 1 and 2.
KJV Jeremiah 52:1 ¶ Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah [of/from] Libnah.
2 And he did [that which was evil in the eyes of/what displeased] the LORD, [according to all that/just as/like] Jehoiakim had done.
There are two kings mentioned in these two verses. Zedekiah and Jehoiakim. But if you recall there was actually a king in between those two kings. His name was Jehoiachin or Jeconiah. But he’s not mentioned here. He’s mentioned at the very end of this chapter.
What happens at this point relating to Zedekiah and Jehoiakim is portrayed as tragic. And that’s because they didn’t submit to God’s authority.
But what ends up happening to Jehoiachin/Jeconiah is gracious. But we need to see the tragedy of not submitting to God’s authority before we see the grace given to one who actually did submit to God’s authority later on at the end of this chapter.
3 ¶ For through the anger of the LORD [it/the following events] came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, [till/when] he had cast them out from his presence, [that/here’s how it started:] Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
Secular history books might state the bare facts of the Babylonian invasion of Judah. They can state the “what” and the “how”. But God here states the “why” of the invasion from divine perspective. Jeremiah has no doubt and leaves no doubt in our minds that this came about because God was angry at the sins of his people.
So, Babylon comes in verse 4. About six years after Seraiah proclaimed God’s coming judgement on Babylon earlier in chapter 51.
4 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month [Jan 15th, 588 BC…], that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and [pitched/set up camp] [against/outside] it, and built [forts/siege ramps/a siege wall] against it round about.
5 So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
Babylon Breaks Into Jerusalem
Then Babylon breaks into Jerusalem in verse 6. About 2 ½ years after they set up camp around the city.
6 And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month [July 18th, 586…], the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land.
7 Then the city was broken [up/into], and all [the men of war/soldiers] fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they [the Judean soldiers…] went by the way of the plain [headed for the Jordan Valley…].
When that happened, Zedekiah was captured in verse 8.
8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army [was scattered from/deserted] him.
Zedekiah Sentenced & Exiled
Then Zedekiah is sentenced and exiled in verse 9.
9 Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the [land/territory] of Hamath; where he [gave judgment/passed sentence] upon him.
10 And the king of Babylon [slew/slaughtered] the sons of Zedekiah [before his eyes/while he was forced to watch]: he slew also all the [princes/nobles] of Judah in Riblah.
11 Then he [put out/blinded] the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and [carried him/led him off] to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
And even here we see Jeremiah’s ministry vindicated. What prevented Nebuchadnezzar from killing Zedekiah instead of just blinding him? It’s the fact that God promised that Zedekiah wouldn’t die. He would see the king of Babylon eye to eye. And then see nothing ever again. But he would not die.
Then with their king exiled, Jerusalem is destroyed in verse 12. About one month after Zedekiah was exiled.
12 ¶ Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month [Aug 17th, 586 BC…], which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem,
13 And burned the [house/temple] of the LORD, and the king’s [house/palace]; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the [houses of the great men/large houses], burned he with fire:
14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about.
Then Babylon exiles the Jews in verse 15.
15 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive [certain/some] of the poor of the people, and the [residue/rest] of the people that remained in the city, and those that [fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon/deserted to Babylon], and the rest of the [multitude/artisans/craftsmen].
But Babylon leaves some poor people behind in verse 16.
16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left certain of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.
And then Jeremiah takes a very long time describing in great detail in verses 17-23 how the temple was dismantled.
17 ¶ Also the pillars of brass that were in the [house/temple] of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen [basin called the…] sea that was in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.
18 The [caldrons/pots] also, and the shovels, and the [snuffers/trimming shears], and the [bowls/basins], and the [spoons/pans], and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
19 And the [basons/bowls], and the firepans, and the bowls, and the caldrons, and the candlesticks, and the spoons, and the cups; that which was of gold in gold, and that which was of silver in silver, took the captain of the guard away.
20 The two pillars, one sea, and twelve brasen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had made in the house of the LORD: the brass of all these vessels was [without weight/too heavy to be weighed].
21 And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was [eighteen cubits/27 feet]; [and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it/18 feet in circumference]; and the thickness thereof was [four fingers/three inches]: it was hollow.
22 And a [chapiter/top/capital] of brass was upon it; and the height of [one chapiter/each capital] was [five cubits/7.5 feet], with [network/latticework] and [ornaments in the shape of…] pomegranates upon the [chapiters/capitals] round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.
23 And there were ninety and six pomegranates on [a side/the sides]; [and/in] all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.
Religious and Political Officials Killed
With the temple dismantled, Jeremiah describes the death of both religious and political officials in Judah.
24 ¶ And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest [not the quartermaster and brother of Baruch…], and Zephaniah the second [-ranked…] priest, and the three keepers of the door:
25 He took also out of the city an [eunuch/official], which had the charge of the men of war;
and seven men of [them that were near the king’s person/the king’s advisers], which were found in the city;
and the [principal scribe of the host/official army secretary], who [mustered/drafted for military service] the people of the land;
and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the midst of the city.
26 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.
27 And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.
Summary of the Exiles
And now here is something very interesting. In verses 28 through 30 Jeremiah gives us the numbers of exiles sent away in three different exiles of Judah.
Sometimes we might think that there was just one exile of Judah. There were actually three of them.
28 ¶ This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away captive:
in the seventh year [597 BC…] [three thousand Jews and three and twenty/3,023 Jews]:
So, 597 BC is when Nebuchadnezzar set up Zedekiah as the king of Judah. In that year he also took away these 3,023 Jews as well.
29 In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar [586 BC…] he carried away captive from Jerusalem [eight hundred thirty and two persons/832]:
So, that’s when Babylon broke into Jerusalem, blinded Zedekiah, and sent everyone away.
Although apparently not quite everyone. Because, remember that the Jews fled to Egypt. Then God promised to judge Egypt and bring Nebuchadnezzar into Egypt as a judgement on his people? Well, I think that’s what we see recorded in verse 30.
30 In the [three and twentieth/23rd] year of Nebuchadrezzar [581 BC…] Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews [seven hundred forty and five/745] persons:
all the persons were [four thousand and six hundred/4,600].
Now, what I think is so interesting and we need to keep in mind forever after this is the number of exiles.
4,600 is not a lot of people. When we think of Israel, at least I tend to think of the census figures back in the book of Numbers that lead us to believe there were about 2 million Israelites at that time.
But after all their sin and rebellion for several hundred years, they’re left with only less than 5,000 people. That’s one quarter of one percent of their original population in the wilderness.
Can we be reminded that sin is devastating? Sin in a nation and sin in a life – it has devastating consequences. Let’s not be deceived about this.
Jehoiachin Treated Well
Well, that was the negative side of Jeremiah’s ministry being vindicated.
But now starting in verse 31 and to the end of this book we have the positive side of this vindication of God’s word through Jeremiah.
Remember, God was teaching everyone that the only way to live was to submit to his authority. Most people didn’t – the Jews, the nations of the world – no one was submitting to God’s authority.
And yet, there was one king who submitted to one little part of God’s authority. Let’s rehearse the fact that God initially told the Jews that if they repented they could be in their land still. But then at some point God closed that option to them. They then had to surrender to Babylon to save their lives.
And most didn’t do it. Most of the Jews rebelled and remained in the land and did not surrender to Babylon.
But one king did. His name was Jehoiachin or Jeconiah. He did go out to Babylon.
Now, this king was a bad guy. God says as much – he did evil in the sight of the Lord. And yet, Jehoiachin did submit to God in this one little area of going out to Babylon.
Hmm, I wonder what happens to such a man who submits to God’s authority in even one little area of his life… Let’s see.
31 ¶ And it came to pass in the [seven and thirtieth/37th] year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the [five and twentieth/25th] day of the month [May 20, 561 BC…], that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign [lifted up the head of/showed favor to/pardoned] Jehoiachin king of Judah, and [brought him forth out of/released him from] prison,
Zedekiah was imprisoned to the day of his death for his rebellion against God. But Jehoicahin here is released from prison!
32 And spake kindly unto him, and [set his throne above the throne of/gave him a more prestigious position than] the [other…] kings that were with him in Babylon,
33 And [Jehoicahin…] [changed/took off] his prison garments: and he did [continually/daily] eat [bread/his meals] [before him/in the king’s presence] [all the days/for the rest] of his life.
34 And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
So, we’re not saying that Jehoiachin had an easy life. He was after all in prison for almost 40 years before this gracious act of this new Babylonian king. And yet, eventually God did act and this king was treated better than any other exiled king in Babylon.
Did Jehoiachin deserve this mercy? No. Why did he get it then? Simply because he submitted to God’s authority in this one little area. And because of that, God showed him mercy.
And that’s how God closes this book. Demonstrating the truth of the message of this book which has been Submit to God’s Authority and Live!
Next week we’ll be in the psalms again – probably Psalm 21.