Jeremiah goes to Zedekiah twice with prophecies. The first was for a better future than the second. Zedekiah’s actions set the second one in place. And it’s not a good future.
God told Zedekiah, through Jeremiah, that he would go into captivity. He would not die by sword or famine. He would even see King Nebuchadnezzar “eye-to-eye” and “face-to-face” while in the land of Babylon. God said that Zedekiah would even be mourned as a good king.
We are not told how many days, months or years passed between these two visits of Jeremiah. What we do know is that there were several changes that took place between them. And those changes resulted in God’s decision to make Zedekiah’s end NOT so pleasant. King Nebuchadnezzar’s face may be the LAST thing he ever saw. He went into captivity anyway but it was NOT comfortable or worthy of praise.
So what happened between the two messages?
- Nebuchadnezzar’s army went away and came back (verse 21-22)
- Zedekiah served Nebuchadnezzar and then he revolted (2 Kings 25)
- Zedekiah repented, made a covenant with to the Lord and then broke it (verse 15)
- The people honored God’s directions and then broke it (verse 18)
Because of the first two points listed, we can assume that a good deal of time passed between these visits by Jeremiah. Zedekiah held the throne for 11 years, the first 9 being subject to Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar is the one who put him on the throne to begin with. This was when Jehoiachin was taken captive after only three months on the throne. Zedekiah even swore to the God of Israel that he would faithfully serve Nebuchadnezzar. So, Nebuchadnezzar went home. God brought Nebuchadnezzar and ALL his armies back with him to besiege Jerusalem for TWO years.
Points three and four are why God brought Nebuchadnezzar back. At some point in time, King Zedekiah humbled himself before the Lord. He repented and made a new covenant with the Lord IN the courtyard of the Temple. A place where vows were most solemn and serious. It looks like they may have even performed a ritual like Abraham did when God made His covenant with him; splitting the animals in two and walking between them.
One of the most staggering points in that covenant was where the people released all their fellow Hebrews from slavery. This was part of God’s original instructions to the Hebrews; that after serving 6 years as a slave, they would be freed forever in the 7th year. They owed no more of whatever debt brought them into bondage, and they were restored to their previous state in society. They were freemen, equal to any other Hebrew. ALL the area of Judah obeyed this commandment of the Lord and of the king. And this was HUGE because there were other kings before who had not observed this commandment. We aren’t told how many others but I would guess it would include all who were labeled as “ungodly” in both Judah and Israel.
Then the people went back on their promise of freeing the slaves. We don’t know how long it took them to break this promise, but break it they did. They took back everyone they had freed. They not only broke their promise to their fellow Hebrews by doing this but they broke their promise to God, which was done by a solemn covenant. From the throne down, they “profaned” the name of the Lord.
This brought Jeremiah back to King Zedekiah. God was NOT happy about this turn of events! In this encounter God “freed” Zedekiah too. He ‘freed’ him to the sword, pestilence, and famine. In other words, everything he was supposed to be protected from would now fall on his head for this act.
When I was thinking about God’s first promise to Zedekiah about seeing king eye-to-eye and face-to-face. If Nebuchadnezzar was like other kings of the time, he went out to battle with his troops. When Zedekiah was captured, after sneaking out of the city, he was most likely brought to Nebuchadnezzar. Once there, Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah’s sons killed before his eyes and then put out Zedekiah’s eyes. Zedekiah did indeed see the king eye-to-eye and face-to-face. And that was the LAST sight he had in his life.
Something else that came to my mind is how our salvation compares to the freeing of the Hebrews. There has been some debate about whether one can lose their salvation or not. When God frees us from death, He KEEPS us free. We are no longer “slaves to sin” but alive in Christ. If we could lose our salvation then we would be enslaved again. God says NO to this in the human realm and NO to it in the spiritual realm too. To me, this is another proof of God NOT revoking His gift of salvation to us. We can damage, or ‘clog up’ our relationship but we can NEVER stop being His child once He adopts us into His family.
Thank You Father God, first of all for Your salvation. That You won’t take that gift back from me. I’m Yours forever! Thank You also for making me think and look into the history of the whole story today. I learned a LOT by looking a little deeper and putting a few pieces together to get a fuller picture of what was going on in Jeremiah’s time. Sometimes I wish MANY of the writers gave me a more chronological account, but then I wouldn’t need to dig out information for myself. This way, You spark my curiosity. Thanks God! I really needed that.