Jeremiah 52:31-34 – Hope

Read Jeremiah 52:31-34

Our final episode is taken directly from the history found in 2 Kings 25, the only difference being the date of King Jehoiachin’s release. Of course, Jeremiah was not the author of this final chapter since Jeremiah 51:64 says so, and this final event happens nearly halfway through the exile period. Jeremiah had been taken to Egypt.

What we have here is hope. The line of Davidic kings was spared for some reason. Was the new king simply offering clemency to long time prisoners or was he trying to strengthen his own position by making such a move? King Jehoiachin would be a noteworthy choice being he was nobility.

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Jeremiah 52:24-30 – A Prisoner’s Death

Read Jeremiah 52:24-30

If you got hauled off into exile, you’d certainly be hoping for them to spare your life. By the time this group of 74 people consisting of dignitaries, priests, and even poor folk were collected and taken to the king, many others were already hostage in Babylon. Would these people have knowledge of where they were headed from hearing word from those exiled or was it a total unknown?

No matter what these people knew or didn’t know, they endured emotional upheaval which led to the resolution of death. These prisoners would not be captive for long. Certainly they had seen death all around them when others had been taken or attacked. Now it was their turn. This was not a pleasant time to be in Jerusalem.

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Jeremiah 52:1-11 – A New Season

Read Jeremiah 52:1-11

What’s going through my head right now is “déjà vu!” I feel like I have already lived through this text recently. (See Chapter 39 and also 2 Kings 25.) In effect, Chapter 52 serves as a conclusion or historical appendix of all the things God said would happen through Jeremiah. We’ll reflect on the fall of Jerusalem in a couple chunks.

Today we look at what happened to the kingly leadership. From what we read in Scripture, kingship doesn’t necessarily mean devotion to God. While Zedekiah’s future sounds painful, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise if he had been listening to Jeremiah. Zedekiah had plenty of opportunity to re-evaluate his life and turn toward God. It’s hard to imagine enduring such torture when it could have been avoided. This was certainly not a good “season” for Zedekiah.

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Jeremiah 51:41-64 – Escape the Disgrace

Read Jeremiah 51:41-64

God’s explanation of “why” the Babylonian empire must fall was simple. “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed.” This is one common picture of justice, known as retributive justice. “For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full.”

What surprised me was that long before Babylon’s destruction, roughly seventy-seven years, Jeremiah sent messages to Babylon about its own demise at the hands of God. What a bold move! Notice Jeremiah used someone else to deliver this message from God to Babylon. Imagine what those hearing God’s message must have thought. It would be their descendants who would witness God’s fulfillment of these words.

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Jeremiah 51:20-40 – How God Works

Read Jeremiah 51:20-40

Unlike the promise of restoration given for Jerusalem, Babylon’s destruction is final. According to my study notes, the first four verses of this passage are likely referring to Cyrus, God’s partner for paying back Babylon for all the wrongs done to the Israelites. God is going to work through someone else to complete his purposes.

It’s texts like this that prompt people to say God is frighteningly cruel. When people avoid God saying he’s mean or vengeful, the example of his plans for Babylon is on point. I view what God is doing here as being loving toward his people. Like a protective parent rushing to defend a child being bullied, God means business.

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