Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CCLIV - Jeremiah 21-25

The last post ended with Jeremiah’s outpouring of his soul in chapter 20.  One should by this time have understood why Jeremiah was considered such a passionate man.  Passionate for God and passionate for his people.  In this post we will see Jeremiah’s total disgust for corruption.  Corruption was a problem not only in the country’s leaders, but also the religious leaders.  {Corruption grows like a cancer, and once it gets a foothold, it is extremely difficult to clean up.}

During Jeremiah’s ministry, the nation of Judah went through five kings in forty years, promoting chaotic administration and allowing corruption to take place.  In this passage, Jeremiah actually speaks of the various kings by name.

Chapter 21 – King Zedekiah’s Request to God is Rejected

During this time of Jeremiah’s writings was when King Zedekiah requested Jeremiah to seek God’s help, as Nebuchadnezzar, kin of Babylon was approaching Jerusalem with his might army.  This chapter tells of God totally rejecting Zedekiah’s plea for help.  As you read this chapter you will paraphrase in your mind God saying, “I warned you so many times that it wore Me out.  I will not only withhold My assistance to you, but I will help your enemy defeat you”.  {Wow!  What a shock that must have been to the people of Jerusalem.  God should never be taken for granted, as was clearly the case here.}

Chapter 22 – Leaders Matter

In the last chapter Jeremiah dealt directly with King Zedekiah.  In this chapter he deals with kings in general.  Remember, all kings of Judah were descendants of David, as per the Davidic Covenant made by God Himself.  So all the kings had a perfect example by which to pattern their reign.  And to be fair, many of them were great kings who sought the will of God.  But time and corruption watered down their zeal for that which was most important.  When in verse 11 he refers to “Shallum”, he is referring to Jehoahaz who was taken captive in Egypt.  He makes a point of saying that Jehoahaz will never return to the Promised Land, and that he will die in the land of his captures.  Jehoahaz’s brother Jehoiakim took his place on the throne after it was determined that Jehoahaz would never return.  Then verse 13 offers a scathing indictment against Jehoiakim’s reign.  {Wouldn’t be a shame if you were a leader and people marked your administration with Corruption, injustice, and cheating laborers.}  Verse 14 tells of the extravagance the Jehoiakim enjoyed for himself.  (Remind you of anybody?)  The first part of verse 15 is sarcastic, asking if an expensive palace makes you a good leader.  Then Jeremiah briefly compares both Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim with their father Josiah, who was such a good and wonderful king for Judah.  The difference between Josiah and his sons were as night and day.  Good versus evil.  Godliness versus selfishness.  Humility versus haughtiness.  Peaceful versus violent.  In the following verses Jeremiah goes so far as to say that nobody mourned the death of Jehoiakim.  How sad.  He then goes on to the next king, Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s son.  He goes on to say that Jehoiachin (vs 26) will suffer two penalties from God:  1. He will be taken captive and die in a foreign country, and 2. He will have no son to carry his name.  {This was important to the Israelite culture.}  His uncle Zedekiah would take the throne after Jehoiachin was taken off to Babylon.

Chapter 23 – More on Leaders

Verse 1 says “Woe to the shepherds who scatter the sheep of My pasture”.  God is speaking of both kings and priests.  He is giving fair warning to all future generations.  If God places a person in a position of leadership, woe to him if he does not lead in a Godly manner.  The level of responsibility is staggering.  In the following verses he mentions a few of the punishment He will invoke on those who shirk their responsibilities as His appointed leaders.  Now take notice of verses 5 and 6.  This is a prophesy for our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.  The word “Branch” is used, as it is in the New Testament.  Also he says the name by which he will be called:  The Lord Our Righteous Savior.  The remaining verses of chapter 23 are the judgments cast upon Judah’s priests and prophets who have so disrespected their appointed positions.  As you read these verses you will see words like Baal, Sodom and Gomorrah, repulsive, wicked, adultery, horrible, just to name a few.  The indictment is very serious.

Chapter 24 – The Parable of the Baskets of Figs

You may or may not have heard of this parable before.  The Lord showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs at the Temple.  One basket was full of good ripe figs.  The other was full of rotten figs.  To make a long story short, the good figs represented those Israelites who have been taken captive.  The basket full of bad figs represented those left behind with King Zedekiah.  {This was sure to have been a big attention-getter.}

Chapter 25 – God’s Wrath Foretold

God’s wrath was foretold against not only the remnant of Judah, but also for the surrounding nations, including Babylon, who have exercised cruelty against Judah and other nations in the north, east, and west of Judah.  In the first half of this chapter God assigns Israel to captivity for seventy years.  This should have been somewhat comforting, hearing that God’s punishment was temporary, although nobody living at this time would be allowed to escape captivity.  Only the future generations.  From verse 15 through the end of this chapter is God through Jeremiah telling of how wide God’s net will be cast.  The “cup” is used as an analogy, which is used often throughout the Bible.  God plans to clean up the entire world, making sure to leave out no nation in His showing of exactly Who is the only God and Creator.  God had everything in His control then and He has everything in His control now.

Next Post – The difference between Jeremiah and the other prophets

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