(34 verses, 6:23 to read)
What I am about to READ
- Jeremiah recounts the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the exile of the Judeans, all of which began in the year 587 B.C.
- vv. 1-11: The fall of Jerusalem and the exile, sentencing, and punishment of Zedekiah
- vv. 12-23: The pillaging and destruction of the temple
- vv. 23-30: The Judeans exiled to Babylon in three different waves
- vv. 31-34: Jehoiachin released from prison
- The Lord’s Word always accomplishes that for which He purposes it. The kings and people of Judah had disobeyed the Lord’s Word and broken the covenant made in the wilderness under Moses. As a result, God visited the curses upon them that He threatened in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. This took place through means. The Lord sent Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to lay siege to and overtake Jerusalem as punishment. The sentencing and punishment of King Zedekiah is particularly brutal, as the last thing he saw before being blinded by the Babylonians was the execution of his sons and the officials of Judah, leaving no apparent hope for redemption.
- Additionally, the temple was destroyed and all its furnishings and vessels removed and taken by the Babylonians. Interestingly, some of the temple vessels were brought out for use at a party by Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 5). In former times, such violence done to the temple resulted in trouble for God’s enemies (I Samuel 5), but it is interesting to note that the Lord allowed this to be done as further indication that He had withdrawn His aid from Judah because of their hardness of heart.
- The three waves of exiles leaving Judah is an interesting historical feature. The idea here was to remove any skilled labor or elites from an area to prevent any sort of rebellion from the people. While this was the intention of the Babylonians, God used this to demonstrate that the people of Judah were utterly hopeless. Only a miraculous restoration would be able to bring the people back to the land God had promised to their forefathers.
- This restoration is alluded to in the restoration of Jehoaichin in the closing portion of Jeremiah. As we know from other places in Scripture, God uses the Persian King Cyrus to restore the people to Jerusalem and begins the project of rebuilding the temple and the city. This is God’s promise at work in history. Though no hope remained, God remains faithful to His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even more so, He is faithful to His promise of sending the Messiah through the line of David to restore the people of God not to the land, but to God Himself. In the flesh and blood of Jesus, God reconciled the world to Himself and restored what was lost in the fall. Though God hates sin and punishes it, this is always done with an eye toward restoration and bringing His people back to Himself.
- We may also see a hint of our Lord’s suffering over sin in the desecration and destruction of the temple. When our Lord speaks of the destruction of the temple in John 2, the evangelist tells us that He is speaking of His own body. Since the temple in the Old Testament was the place where God met His people, its desecration and destruction are acts taken against God Himself, much like the punishment and death Jesus Himself endured at the hands of the Romans in His final hours before His rest in the tomb. Ironically, from our point of view, God allows this apparent weakness of torture and death to take place in order that He might act in His full power and might to redeem man from sin and death.
- Prayer: O Lord, You chasten those whom You love. Do not discipline us in Your wrath, but grant us repentance of our sins and lead us to everlasting life found only in Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
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-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN
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