Read: Jeremiah 32-34
I probably should have stopped to review Zedekiah’s history a few days ago to give us some perspective, but here we are today in the 10th year as king, near the end of his of his reign as king of Judah. At this point, he’s heard enough of Jeremiah, so he has him confined to the temple courts as punishment and in an effort to get him to change his prophetic words.
Background on Zedekiah
Reference: 2 Kings 24:18-25:7; 2 Chronicles 36:9-14, king of Judah from at age 21 for 11 years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 36:14
Here’s a good review of Zedekiah’s not-so-great legacy: https://www.gotquestions.org/King-Zedekiah.html
Having this as a background, reading Jeremiah’s interaction is easier to understand. As the gotquestions.org summary concluded, Zedekiah had the opportunity to learn from his relatives mistakes when they ascended to the throne, but he chose to listen to false prophets, the message he wanted to hear. It did not go well for Zedekiah.
Jeremiah Buys a Field
For a faithful prophet, or for anyone who listened to the same, buying a field before the Babylonian exile made perfect sense. For everyone else, this probably didn’t look like a good idea, perhaps even somewhat crazy. Jeremiah trusted the word of the Lord, he knew the exile was not permanent and the deed of purchase would enable his heirs to reclaim the field after the exile.
42 “This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. 43 Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.’ Jeremiah 32:42-43
Promise of Restoration
Jeremiah’s prophecy of destruction followed by restoration continues. In this passage, he looks forward to the distant future, to that wonderful time when the Righteous Savior will appear:
“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
Good news and Great news! The call to patience and trust in the Lord is evident — this is what we must hear.
Final Warning to Zedekiah
Jeremiah provides Zedekiah with a consolation prize:
“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. Jeremiah 34:4-5
Essentially, all is about to be destroyed, but you will die peacefully. However, before you get to this final resting place, he will witness the horrors of his apostasy, his individual choice to ignore Jeremiah. He will witness his sons’ execution, have his eyes gouged out, then die peacefully.
Freedom for the Slaves
In the last section of chapter 34, Jeremiah addresses the deceitful actions of Zedekiah when he reneged on the legal process of freeing the slaves in the seventh year–another example of his corrupt heart.
“Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. Jeremiah 34:17
The sarcasm flag is waving as the Lord redefines freedom for Zedekiah and his people. They’ll see freedom from life on earth through the sword, plague and famine. Not so good.
The lesson today focuses on the bad behavior of Zedekiah, his refusal to listen to the Lord’s prophet. Somehow he was unable to understand that Jeremiah’s prophecies were the ones that actually happened while his sycophants merely said that which would please the ears of the king and his cronies. Lord, keep your word fresh in our ears so we hear what you have to say. I’m hard-headed and need constant reminders, please don’t let me be one who listens to false teaching! Keep me from saying that which people want to hear over your words, your call. Let me learn from these mistakes.