In The Word
Read: Jeremiah 37, 38
Jeremiah Warns against Trust in Pharaoh
37 Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lordwhich He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.
3 Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and the priest Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray to the Lordour God in our behalf.” 4 Now Jeremiah was still coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison. 5 Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s army had set out from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who had been besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
6 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 7 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘This is what you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: “Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which has come out to help you, is going to return to its own land of Egypt. 8 Then the Chaldeans will return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire.”’ 9 This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will certainly go away from us,” for they will not go. 10 For even if you had defeated the entire army of Chaldeans who were fighting against you, and there were onlywounded men left among them, each man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.’”
11 Now it happened when the army of the Chaldeans had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army,12 that Jeremiah left Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin in order to take possession of some property there among the people. 13 While he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah the son of Hananiah was there; and he arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chaldeans!” 14 But Jeremiah said, “A lie! I am not deserting to the Chaldeans”; yet he would not listen to him. So Irijah arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 Then the officials were angry at Jeremiah and they beat him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe, for they had made it into the prison. 16 For Jeremiah had come into the dungeon, that is, the vaulted cell; and Jeremiah stayed there many days.
17 Now King Zedekiah sent men and took him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him and said, “Is there a word from the Lord?” And Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You will be handed over to the king of Babylon!” 18 Moreover, Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “In what way have I sinned against you, or your servants, or this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 And where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land’? 20 But now, please listen, my lord the king; please let my plea come before you and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, so that I will not die there.” 21 Then King Zedekiah gave a command, and they placed Jeremiah in custody in the courtyard of the guardhouse, and gave him a loaf of bread daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
38 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchijah heard the words that Jeremiah was speaking to all the people, saying, 2 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Anyone who stays in this city will die by the sword, by famine, or by plague; but anyone who surrenders to the Chaldeans will live and have his own life as plunder, and stay alive.’ 3 This is what the Lord says: ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon and he will capture it.’” 4 Then the officials said to the king, “Please have this man put to death, since he is discouraging the men of war who are left in this city and all the people, by speaking words like these to them; for this man is not seeking the well-being of this people, but rather their harm.” 5 And King Zedekiah said, “Behold, he is in your hands; for the king can do nothing against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchijah the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but onlymud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. 7 But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch, while he was in the king’s palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the cistern. Now the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin; 8 and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, 9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have thrown into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take thirty men from here under your authority and bring Jeremiah the prophet up from the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king’s palace to a place beneath the storeroom, and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags, and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes”; and Jeremiah did so. 13 So they pulled Jeremiah out with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
Zedekiah Seeks an Answer from God
14 Then King Zedekiah sent word and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance that is in the house of the Lord; and the king said to Jeremiah, “I am going to ask you something; do not hide anything from me.” 15 And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not certainly put me to death? Besides, if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.” 16 But King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah in secret, saying, “As the Lord lives, who made this life for us, I certainly will not put you to death, nor will I hand you over to these men who are seeking your life.”
17 So Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LordGod of armies, the God of Israel says: ‘If you will indeed surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city will be handed over to the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape from their hands.’”19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am in fear of the Jews who have deserted to the Chaldeans, for they may hand me over to them, and they will abuse me.”20 But Jeremiah said, “They will not turn you over. Please obey the Lord in what I am saying to you, so that it may go well for you and you may live. 21 But if you keep refusing to surrender, this is the word which the Lord has shown me: 22 ‘Behold, all of the women who have been left in the palace of the king of Judah are going to be brought out to the officers of the king of Babylon; and those women will say,
“Your close friends
Have misled and overpowered you;
While your feet were sunk in the mire,
They turned back.”
23 They are also going to bring out all your wives and your sons to the Chaldeans, and you yourself will not escape from their hand, but will be seized by the hand of the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned with fire.’”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know about these words, and you will not die. 25 But if the officials hear that I have talked with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us now what you said to the king and what the king said to you; do not hide it from us and we will not put you to death,’ 26 then you are to say to them, ‘I was presenting my plea before the king, not to make me return to the house of Jonathan to die there.’” 27 Then all the officials came to Jeremiah and questioned him. So he reported to them in accordance with all these words which the king had commanded; and they stopped speaking with him, since the conversation had not been overheard. 28 So Jeremiah stayed in the courtyard of the guard until the day that Jerusalem was captured.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
Even after the consequences of disobedience, the king and people still refused to listen to Jeremiah or obey God, yet the people still asked Jeremiah to appeal to God on their behalf. God replied that the enemy army would return to finish destroying Jerusalem. During a break in the war, Jeremiah decided to take care of a personal matter out of town. As he was leaving Jerusalem, he was wrongly accused of defecting to the enemy and was put in prison. While there, the king visited Jeremiah in hopes that God would give a better word than before. God did not change His mind, but simply reaffirmed His prior warnings of destruction. Then God gave the king two alternatives: surrender to the enemy so the city would be spared and the king would live, or resist and the city would be captured and burned. Jeremiah urged the king, “Please obey the Lord in what I am saying to you, that it may go well with you and you may live.”
Some Christians mistakenly think that they can sin with no response from God and no consequences. He allows painful consequences for disobedience to get our attention, and He disciplines us out of love to bring us back to Him. We can ignore the discipline and keep stubbornly sinning, or we can respond to God by repenting of our sins and returning to the path of righteousness. If you feel God’s hand of loving discipline, return to holy obedience and reap the better consequences of righteousness.