The Concern for Judah, cont’d. Jeremiah 2-45
Jeremiah 21-38 Dated Prophecies, cont’d.
Jeremiah 36:1-3-In 603 B.C., God tells Jeremiah to write down everything He has told him since the first day that He began to speak to him (627 B.C.) until the present time in a scroll (the scroll was not finished and read until 605 B.C.). The hope was that when the people heard all that God has prophesied through Jeremiah (and saw the accuracy with which some of it had already come true)…that they would repent of their sin and turn to God.
Jeremiah 36:4-10-Jeremiah calls his scribe Baruch (Jeremiah’s attendant, cf. 32:12-25; 36:10-19,26; 43:3,6) and tells him to write down all that he tells him in a scroll (papyrus sheets glued together end-to-end and rolled up, :23). He then directs Baruch to deliver the scroll to the house of the LORD and read it to the people...since he is not allowed to go there (due to the negative reaction to his prophecies). The scroll was read three times…in the Temple court (:10), before the officials (:15), and before King Jehoiakim (:21).
Jeremiah 36:11-19-Baruch was brought before the officials and they had him read the scroll. They told him to give them the scroll...but for him and Jeremiah to hide.
Jeremiah 36:20-26-The king ordered that the scroll be read. As it was unrolled and read, he would cut that section off and burn it in the fire, until it was all burned up. The king and his servants did not believe the words of Jeremiah and were not afraid. Then he sent for Jeremiah and Baruch, but they could not be found…because “the LORD hid them” (:26).
Jeremiah 36:27-32-God told Jeremiah to write everything down in a scroll, again. But this time, God told him to add that since Jehoiakim had refused to be obedient to what he had read in the first scroll, He was going to punish him by allowing him to be taken captive and killed, having his dead body thrown outside (a sign of disrespect for a king), and leaving no one in his family to take his place as king. Jehoiakim had this second scroll burned, as well. So, God had Jeremiah make a third scroll. It too was burned.
Jeremiah 37:1-10-This chapter jumps ahead in the timeline. In chapter 36, Jeremiah is warning King Jehoiakim about the coming attack by Babylon. In chapter 37, the attack has already occurred and Jerusalem has fallen. Jehoiakim was killed and the Jews made his son Jeconiah king in his place. However, Nebuchadnezzer (king of Babylon) deposed him and made Mattaniah the king (he called him Zedekiah). Not long after, Zedekiah revolted by joining forces with the Egyptians. Jeremiah warned him to not do this, but he refused to listen (:1-2).
But we must bear in mind the history of that time, that we may understand the meaning of the Prophet: the Jews made Jeconiah king in the place of
his father, but in the third month the army of the king of Babylon came. Then Jeconiah surrendered himself to them of his own accord. Now the Prophet had said, that there would be no legitimate successor to Jehoiakim; and this was fulfilled, though his son was set on the throne, for a three months’ reign was so unimportant that it was deemed as nothing. And when Nebuchadnezzar saw that the people could hardly be kept in order without a king, he made Mattaniah king, whom he called Zedekiah. And he immediately revolted to the Egyptians and made a treaty with them, in order that he might shake off the yoke of the king of Babylon. Hence the Prophet says, that though Zedekiah had been taught by the example of Jehoiakim and of his nephew Jeconiah, he yet became nothing the better, he does not shnply blame his ingratitude: it is indeed certain that he had been severely reproved by the Prophet for having acted perfidiously towards the King Nebuchadnezzar, for he ought to have kept faith with him to the last.
Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, Jeremiah 37, http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-37.html
Even though he refused to listen to Jeremiah, he knew that God was with him and heard his prayers. So, King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to pray that Judah would be spared from destruction by Babylon (:3). Egypt did agree to help Judah fight against Babylon. They raised their army and began the march. When Nebuchadnezzar heard that Egypt was about to attack his country, he called his army home from Jerusalem. Initially, it appeared that Judah had been spared because the Babylonians had left. But Jeremiah told the king to not think that they were safe...because the Egyptians would return back to their country and the Babylonians would then return and destroy them (:7-10). And that is exactly what happened.
37:5 The Pharaoh was Hophra (44:30), who reigned from 589-570 and who marched to support Zedekiah against Babylon (Jer. 52:3; Ezek. 17:11-21). He retreated before actually engaging in battle and left Jerusalem to fall to the Babylonians in 587.
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Jeremiah 37:5, p. 1181
Jeremiah 37:11-16-When the Babylonian army left Jeremiah went to the gate to leave the city to see the property that he had bought (32:1-15). But the captain of the guard accused him of desertion and being a traitor to the Babylonians and arrested him. He was taken to the officials and they beat him and put him in jail.
Jeremiah 37:17-21-When King Zedekiah heard about it he had him released and asked him if God had spoken to him. He told him that God said that the Babylonians would return and capture him. He then asked the king where his prophets were that had told him that the Babylonians would not attack. He asked that he not be put back in the prison, or else he would die there. Zedekiah let him have freedom in the guardhouse and gave him a daily ration.
Prayer: Father, in these chapters there are two kings who had Your word, but refused to obey. Jehoiakim was so disobedient that he even burned the scroll on which Your word was written. He was so determined to have things go the way that he wanted that he absolutely refused to listen to You. Zedekiah knew in his heart that You had spoken through Jeremiah. It is obvious because even though he refused to obey You…he still wanted Jeremiah to pray for him. Lord, please help me to listen to Your word and to obey. Don’t let me be so hard-hearted that I do what I decide regardless of what You have said. Help me, Lord, to have a heart that is sensitive and responsive to Your word. Help me to be faithful and obedient even when I don’t know all of the answers that I am looking for, and even when my own desires would do otherwise.