Jeremiah 21–24 – Condemnation Of Kings, Prophets And People
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King Zedekiah is the last king of Judah, just before Babylon sweeps them away to exile. There were several prophets active around the time Zedekiah reigned, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, he had plenty of opportunity to know what was going on around him.
“I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire. (Jeremiah 21:10).
Jeremiah prophesied during the evil reigns of Jehoahaz (Jeho-Ahaz), Jehoaichin, Jehoaikim and Zedekiah. Called the weeping prophet, Jeremiah had the difficult task of preaching during a time when few listened. That’s enough to make anyone sad! But it wasn’t a prideful, personal mourning, Jeremiah was sad because of what was happening to God’s holy people, the chosen ones. Hearing difficult words about their idolatry, some horrible choices, is enough to break anyone’s heart when viewing the scene from God’s perspective. These were not good times.
“Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods” (22:9).
They were misled, not by God, by those who thought power came from man, “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar?” (22:15). More stuff is not the worthy goal.
Chapter 23 begins with Jeremiah speaking against the “shepherds” of the people, the pastors of his day, who misled the flock. Some aspire to be a pastor these days, looking for a title as if the title was important. Lord, I only want to do your will this day, each day. Whatever you have for me Lord, with the title pastor or not, I will do with all my heart for your Kingdom’s purpose, fully confident that you will do what you said: “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture” (23:3). In ancient days and modern times, you Lord will prevail!
Even the prophets (not named) misled the kings of that day, “How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?” (23:26).
Jeremiah 24 includes a parable of the figs, “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten” (24:3). As they are being carried into exile, the Lord says he will be with the good, but the bad are so bad they will be discarded. God will deal with them.
We read the history of our ancestors and know the trouble they brought on themselves for their outrageous behavior. We know this because we read about it in hindsight. Lord, reveal our present transgressions to us today, show us where we have become blinded by the deceiver. God, it’s my heart’s desire to do what is better than good by human standards. I pray that looking back will help us all look forward with wise eyes.