JEREMIAH - CHAPTERS 21-22 JUDGMENT ON KINGS AND LEADERS
JUDGMENT ON THE KINGS AND LEADERS
JEREMIAH – Chapters 21-22
Tuesday, May 18,2021, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
In August 2020, I had a dream in which was written out for me to “preach judgment.” In the dream, I was unprepared and nothing I have ever preached in the past prepared me to preach the message. At that time, I preached a message from Lamentations. We have been faithfully studying the book of Jeremiah since January 2021. Each message has applied to the current events of 2021.
As I approach Chapters 21-28, these oracles spoken by Jeremiah specifically speak of God’s judgment to leaders both civil and spiritual.
As I apply these verses to current events in May 2021, I believe this judgment is for leaders whether spiritual or civil of all nations. We can say that surely, we will not see any judgements this cruel or harsh in civilized nations. Let it be so Dear Jesus. However, God’s judgment is in the earth. I will certainly charge the Biden administration and Obama administration as well as the Democratic and Republican governments with the sins “He did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Even as we will study God’s sovereign removal of Coniah (Jehoiachin) in chapter 22, we can relate that to Prince Harry being stripped of his royal titles and authority. We can also be assured that God can remove any king or president as he wills.
Last week (20:1-4) we met Pashur, the son of Immer the priest, chief governor of the house of the Lord, (a priest and proclaimed prophet). He smote Jeremiah and had him locked in stocks. Pashur met the wrath and judgment of God. We connected the timing with the beginning of King Zedekiah’s reign after the first invasion into Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The time of this prophecy is the second invasion, thus plunging us into the thick of the conflict as it approaches its tragic climax.
Chapter 21 begins in the 9th year of Zedekiah’s reign. Jeremiah is still prophesying almost forty years after his calling in 627 BC.
Jeremiah 21:1-10: The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur, son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said, inquire now of the Lord for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us. But Jeremiah answered them, ‘Tell Zedekiah, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon who are outside the wall besieging you. I will gather them inside this city. I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike down those who live in this city, both men and animals. They will die of a terrible plague. After that, declares the Lord, I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and to their enemies who seek their lives. He will put them to the sword. He will show them no mercy or pity or compassion. Furthermore, tell the people, this is what the Lord says: See I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live. He will escape with his life. I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire. (NIV)
As we remember the story line from last week, Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Zedekiah as a vassal King over Judah. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon refusing to pay the required tax and looking to Egypt for help.
Judah is a servant state of Babylon just as Jeremiah declared. Indeed, Jeremiah’s prophesied, “foe from the north” (4:6) is now here in person, attacking the royal city.
Pashhur and Zephaniah are instructed to ask Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. Zechariah hopes that just as the Lord worked miracles for Israel in the past, he will do it again. “perform wonders” (“do marvels” KJV) refers to the Exodus (34:10).
Even if there was now true repentance, their request is not granted. The Lord responds, “You want me to fight against your enemies? I am fighting against you!” The Lord’s judgment of Zedekiah stands as He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done Jer. 52:2).
The Lord holds Zedekiah and his people to be in breach of the Sinaitic covenant marked for wrath rather than deliverance. There is a personal word for Zedekiah. After the Lord has finished devastating the city, he will give those who mange to survive the trilogy of plague, sword and famine, into the hands of their enemies.
As we learned last week, Zedekiah and his sons were among the survivors. Nebuchadnezzar puts them all to death before Zedekiah’s eyes and puts his eyes out. He binds him in shackles and takes him as a prisoner into exile.
There is a new message for the people. Just as Moses set life and death before Israel in Deuteronomy 30: 15-20, Jeremiah sets before them the past of life and death. In Deuteronomy the promise of life meant living long in the land, while death meant exile. Here, staying in the city is the path of death, and a dreadful death at that.
Life means surrendering to the Chaldeans in order to go into exile having one’s life as a prize of war. The Chaldeans were fighting with Nebuchadnezzar to besiege the city. Jeremiah is ordering Zedekiah and the people of the city to surrender to the Chaldeans rather than fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah again refused to listen to Jeremiah.
21: 11-14: Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, Hear the word of the Lord, O’ house of David, this is what the Lord says: Administer justice every morning. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done---but with no one to quench it. I am against you, Jerusalem, you who live above this valley on the rocky plateau, declares the Lord. You say, who can come against us? Who can enter our refuge? I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the Lord. I will kind a fire in your forests that will consume everything around you.
The wildfires in California have started early this year. These are already destroying hundreds of acres of forest land.
He prophesied regarding the House of David with two-fold words. Repent and do something worthy of repentance or face the fire of God’s fury. This is addressed to the King and to the House of David.
Without evidence of repentance by overt action, fire would fall. Fire would fall on the presumptuous mouth of those saying, “We are God’s children. They won’t come down on us or enter our houses.” No so, says the Lord. He will visit their dwelling place setting its forests ablaze and burning up its surroundings.
JEREMIAH – CHAPTER 22 – JUDGEMENT OF RULERS
“The road to captivity has many tributaries. Jeremiah exposes them all throughout his work. He begins chapter 22 by focusing on the succession of kings from Josiah to Zedekiah. He included each king and chronicled the messages God had given him to deliver. Jeremiah concluded his treatise by showing how each of the kings had rejected God’s message both by example and through encouraging the people to continue in sin” (Dr. C. R. Oliver).
The heritage of Josiah reflected the general moral decay of the kingdom. Even though a steady stream of messages from God offered opportunity to turn and go the way of righteousness, each of the Kings went their own way.
Jeremiah is asked to go to King Zedekiah in person with an admonishment to do justice and righteousness. The message is simple, “Get it right.”
22: 1-9: This is what the Lord says, go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there. Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne---you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hands of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin. For this is what the Lord says about the palace of the king of Judah: though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will surely make you like a desert, like towns not inhabited. I will send destroyers against you, each man with his weapons, and they will cut up your fine cedar beams and throw them into the fire. People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, “why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” And the answer will be: Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.
We have beautiful cities which have been destroyed by terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Portland, New York City, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago, etc. This is the judgment of God. Preachers go tell the people. Do not be afraid to speak God’s word. It is written.
This echoes the call found in 21:12, he exhorts the king to do what is right and to uphold the cause of the oppressed and disadvantaged, urging him once again not to shed innocent blood.
Verse 2 underscores the lofty calling and great responsibility of Judean royalty. “you who sit on David’s throne.” After the overthrow of King Zedekiah, the monarchy was abolished until King Jesus Christ now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jeremiah laid before Zedekiah the historical pattern of rejection by the heirs of the house of David. Through several administrations, the Lord offered opportunities to “make it right.” God’s call for repentance, and His call for acts of remorse, fell to the earth unheeded.
The Lord speaks against the royal palace itself stating that even if it is like Gilead on the summit of Lebanon to him, he will make it desolate and uninhabited.
MESSAGE TO JEHOAHAZ
22:10-12: Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss; rather, weep bitterly for him who is exiled, because he will never return nor see his native land again. For this is what the Lord says about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but has gone from this place, He will never return. He will die in the place where they have led him captive. He will not see this land again.
Jeremiah addressed all the Kings specifically. Josiah was a good king, who died in battle against Pharaoh. Jehoahaz aka/ Shallum reigned only three months before Pharaoh took him away to prison and established another son of Josiah as King.
This brings to my mind that Prince Harry has chosen the wrong path to fulfill his destiny.
22:15-17: Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father (Josiah) eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy. Was not this knowing Me? Say the LORD. Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.
MESSAGE TO JEHOIAKIM (Reigned eleven years and did evil):
22:21-22: I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, “I will not hear.” This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice. Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated for all your wickedness.
MESSAGE TO JEHOIACHIN (Coniah): 22:24-28: As I live, says the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off, and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear---the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. (Each of the addressed kings had a different mother, but same father.) Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol, a vessel in which is no pleasure.
Coniah was a charismatic figure. He was worshipped like a god. They looked upon him as one who would lead them out of trouble and thus, they venerated him. Addressing Coniah, not by his Kingly name, but by a nickname, Jeremiah ends chapter twenty-two with a bang.
The signet ring is a metaphor which we can apply to Joe Biden. The Lord compared Coniah to the central stone of the ring a king would use to validate legal documents. It was a symbol of authority. Because there was no effective King and he refused to wear (or use) Coniah as a signet of authority. Neither would God validate the covenants to the house of David through Coniah. Even if Coniah became the chief stone in the signed of authority, God would pluck it out and hand it to King Nebuchadnezzar.
The prophet then turns universal, signaling a change from addressing individual kings to the whole earth.
22:29: O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.
Jeremiah calls the whole earth to witness God’ word. As we speak, may our words be worthy for the earth to hear and respond. May that grace be upon the Church.
Jeremiah turns next to pastors and prophets. By doing so he approximated their contribution to be at least equal to that of kings. Their reluctance to speak truth, their reticence in speaking to authorities as well as the public, may well make them more responsible.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from NIV. I entered into the labors of Dr. C. R. Oliver, The Road to Captivity and Jeremiah by: Michael L. Brown. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.