Again we find ourselves in need of older chapters or posts to figure out what’s going on. This set of chapters take place during 2 Kings 24, when Nebuchadnezzar has come and Zedekiah has become king in Jerusalem.
This set of chapters are about Jeremiah and several conflicts with the people in general and some specific people too.
The people ask Jeremiah to ask God for help against Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah responds with roughly the same message he had been trying to deliver. They will all die “by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence”. He does give a way to escape this fate and that is to surrender to the Chaldeans. Well, there is one other alternative:
12O house of David! Thus says the LORD:
“‘Execute justice in the morning,
and deliver from the hand of the oppressor
him who has been robbed,
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
and burn with none to quench it,
because of your evil deeds.’”
Neither seem particularly attractive to the people of Judah.
Is it just me or does this sound like a problem in our so-called Christian society?
13“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing
and does not give him his wages,
14who says, ‘I will build myself a great house
with spacious upper rooms,’
who cuts out windows for it,
paneling it with cedar
and painting it with vermilion.
15Do you think you are a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
declares the LORD.
17But you have eyes and heart
only for your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.”
I know Christians have a tendency to ignore the Old Testament, but I think we should reconsider. There is some definite wisdom here in that God does not take lip service, like some folks like to assume. Perhaps being a Christian nation should really include us stopping oppression…. just throwing it out there.
The chapter goes on like this and even includes yet another reference to “pangs as of a woman in labor!” This is followed by the punishment the men will receive and their mothers.
Again, this chapter is scathing and should be taken to heart today. It is directed at the false prophets and priests who are not properly leading the people and encouraging them to do things God is against. Everyone will be punished, but the people in leadership will be punished most severely.
Here God explains that those who did surrender to the Chaldeans will be brought back and be the people of God again, but not so much with the others.
Jeremiah comes out and tells them it’s too late. He’s been warning them for years and now the wrath is coming, and not just for Judah. This anger will eventually take out every nation to some degree. It seems Israel was supposed to be an example, a model of what God wants for people and their leadership failed them, so they failed to lead the rest of the world as well in exemplifying the way to gain God’s favor.
At least that’s how it reads to me.
Jeremiah narrowly escapes a death sentence when some of the people see some sense.
God calls Nebuchadnezzar His “servant”, which is a little odd, but I get that he’s doing what God wants, whether or not he knows it. There is a warning to all nations to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar here. To me, it seems to follow an order to humble themselves to another nation. I could be wrong, but it just seems the idea is that they need to remember they don’t own the place.
Jeremiah has an altercation with another prophet but leaves it in the hands of God. That prophet is dead within the year.
Jeremiah has issues with another false prophets who is mad about the latest thing he said. The people have been taken captive by Babylon and Jeremiah sends them a letter to settle in for the long haul which upsets this other prophet. God also takes issue with what was said and issues a decree about it that “he shall not see the good that I will do to my people among other things.