Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 19: Friday
“For thus says the LORD, ‘Just as I brought all
this great disaster on this people, so I am going
to bring on them all the good that I am promising
them. Fields will be bought in this land of which
you say, “It is a desolation, without man or beast;
it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”
Men will buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,’ declares the LORD.”
Friday’s Bible reading of Jeremiah 32–36, includes events and prophecies during the reigns of two different kings. The chapters are not in chronological order. Chapters 32–34 are from the reign of Zedekiah, and chapters 35–36 are from the reign of Jehoiakim. (See 2 Chronicles 33–36: Repentence & Return for a geneaology chart).
“Jerusalem fell, after a siege of two months in March 597 BC (2 Ki. 23:36ff.). Jehoiakim had died shortly before; Jehoiachin, his son and successor, was carried captive to Babylon with some of his people (2 Ki. 24:8ff.). Zedekiah was given the throne of Judah as a vassal of Babylon, although Jehoiachin, his nephew, was considered king in exile.”1
Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar will lead to the burning of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and those people still remaining in Judah, except for the poorest in the land, will be taken captive into Babylon. (cf. 2 Kings 24–25).2
As I was reading chapters 32–34, I noticed again God’s promise of judgment on Judah for her sin. You will also find God’s promise to Judah of restoration—in chapter 32, God even has Jeremiah buy a field and have the deeds kept to illustrate His promise that He will bring His people back to their land, and that once again they will buy fields. This takes place in the tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign—during the final siege (cf. 2 Kings 25). Think of that—Jeremiah is commanded to buy a field even as the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem! At the end of chapter 33, God reiterates His covenant with David, and His promise of Messiah.
Chapter 34 contains specific prophecy regarding Zedekiah. Chapters 35–36 return the narration to the reign of Jehoiakim. In chapter 35, the Lord contrasts the obedience of the Rechabites to their father, Jonadab, with the disobedience of Judah to the Lord.
Chapter 36 describes Zedekiah’s rebellion as he takes the Word of God, written by Baruch at Jeremiah’s dictation, cuts it up and throws it in the fire.
“When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments. Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.”
“Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.”
God’s Word to Jeremiah was true, and no physical destruction of a scroll by a rebellious king could obliterate it or prevent what God had decreed from taking place.
I think there are some of our most extraordinary lessons on faith in God and trust in God’s Word in these chapters. In the teeth of destruction with the barbarians literally at the gates, knowing the total disaster that is coming, Jeremiah buys a field because God told him to do so. In Jehoiakim we see a man who attempts, to no avail, to destroy God’s Word that he might stay God’s hand, and from him we can learn that no matter what wicked man may do, God acts and keeps His Word.
These chapters have helped me—they’re stable ground in the midst of difficult times for me. I encourage you to read them, and I pray God will use them to help you.
UPDATE: After working on the table in Milestones, I came back and checked the date for the fall of Jerusalem. I originally posted it here as 587 B.C. from an article on the history of Israel in The New Bible Commentary: Revised. Cawley and Millard, in their commentary of Jeremiah within the same volume, date it at 586. I’ve looked at several other sources, and almost all concur with the 586 date.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2F. Cawley, A. R. Millard, “Jeremiah,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., pp. 626, 650.
Jehoiakim Burns the Word of God, Providence Lithograph Company: Public Domain.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter