JEREMIAH - CHAPTERS 37-38 - JEREMIAH IN PRISON
JEREMIAH – CHAPTERS 37-38 - JEREMIAH IN PRISON
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
September 7, 2021
The prophets who are prophesying the demise of the Biden Administration and the return of the Trump administration are facing persecution as brutal as the threats against Jeremiah. None have been put in prison, but the threats on their lives are very real. My sermons posted on the Church F.B. page are being persecuted with a vengeance. The church F.B. page goes to the mass multitudes. My personal F.B. page and sermon notes go to friends and family (people of like-precious faith).
As the persecution intensifies, we will continue to see pressure and mistreatment of the prophets who are bold enough to challenge the wickedness and evil in government.
Political solutions to spiritual problems always follow certain patterns.
1. Create a crisis (or use a crisis) which must be immediately addressed by extreme action.
2. Base the need for the solution on nationalism. Jeremiah’s opposing rhetoric is undermining our military and national security.
3. Further the base for a swift solution on patriotism. Protect the general public from being demoralized. The public needs us.
4. Place the blame on other individuals. Radicalize the opposition.
5. Kill the messenger.
In the previous chapter when Baruch and Jehudi uttered God’s final words, it was Judah’s last chance to repent. Jehudi was the prophet who presented Jeremiah’s scroll to King Zedekiah and was present when the king cut up the scroll and burned it in the fireplace. Jehudi stood by and was not listed among the protesters.
The last four kings of Judah were all warned by Jeremiah. They refused to repent and were removed in judgment:
1. Jehoahaz- reigned three months and was taken prisoner to Egypt by Pharaoh Neco.
2. Jehoiakim – reigned 11 years – did in Jerusalem.
3. Jehoiachin (Coniah) - reigned 3months – taken prisoner to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (with Ezekiel).
4. Zedekiah – reigned 11 years – taken prisoner to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.
The opening lines of Chapter 37 shows the rebellion and hard-heartedness of Zedekiah, his retinue, and the people at large. (In Revelation, when the bowls were poured out, the people’s attitude was the same. Instead of repentance, there was blasphemy.)
Jeremiah 37:1-2: King Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, reigned instead of Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made king in the land of Judah. But neither he nor his servants, nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which he spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.
Zedekiah knew Jeremiah heard from God. He hoped a good word would come forth due to the change in leadership and in honor of his reign. He must have thought perhaps the message had changed for surely God had changed his mind. Therefore, he sent emissaries to Jeremiah.
37:3: Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet, Jeremiah, saying, “Pray now to the LORD our God for us.”
(When names are written in the Bible, they are placed there for their importance either for good or evil.)
We can call these two audacious hypocrites or we can say the lack of fear of God. “Pray now…for us.” How easy do those words slip out of mouths? How spiritual they sound, and they often are followed by, “we need all the prayers we can get.”
This story takes place when Jeremiah was put in prison the second time.
37: 4-5: Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison. Then Pharaoh’s army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
A turn of events came around for Zedekiah. The Egyptians came up to assist Judah. In the spring of 587 B.C., Pharaoh’s army came forth out of Egypt to relieve Jerusalem and the Chaldeans withdrew for 18 months (37:5). This gave Zedekiah great courage and the people great hope.
37:7-10: Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah, waying, thus says the LORD the God of Israel, thus shall you say to the king of Judah, that sent you to me to enquire of me; Behold Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. The Chaldeans shall come again and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire. Do not deceive yourselves, saying the Chaldeans shall surely depart from us; for they shall not depart. For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.
These were the same words spoken years before in the court of Jehoiakim. This was the word Zedekiah had rejected.
I am observing before the LORD that for two weeks now, the LORD has spoken to me from prophecies given to prophets years ago. One word was from David Wilkerson in 1974 and the other from Rich Joyner in 1995.
A reported crisis at home caused Pharaoh to call his army back.
During this time, Jeremiah attempted to leave the city to go to his home in Anathoth.
37: 13-14: When he (Jeremiah) was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!” Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.
Because of his persistent advice to yield to the King of Babylon, it was surmised by his enemies that he was attempting to join the enemy. Thus, on suspicion that Jeremiah was a traitor and working to the interest of the Babylonians, he was imprisoned.
37: 15-16: The princes were angry with Jeremiah. They struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison. Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells. Jeremiah remained there many days.
Jeremiah was apprehended and charged with desertion and imprisoned in the dungeon.
Jeremiah had access to the public from the stockade, so he courageously repeats his prophecy of doom. His message remains unchanged and his statement is now used against him. There are four witnesses who accuse him. In their view, Jeremiah was a traitor.
The guard brought him to the authorities and they made a big mistake, they struck Jeremiah. They put him in prison again.
37: 17-20: The King left Jeremiah in those circumstances for many days before bringing him to questioning. The King brought Jeremiah secretly into his house. His first question to him was “Is there any word from the LORD? Jeremiah said, “there is, for you shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” Disdained at the prospect of being sent back to his dungeon cell, Jeremiah seized the moment to question the King. He asked him to look into the charges against him and find where he had broken the law. The King knew there were no legitimate charges. He made arrangements for Jeremiah’s relief, not his release. Jeremiah did not compromise God’s word in order to gain favor with the King.
37:21: Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was spent. Thus, Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
CHAPTER 38 – Jeremiah in the Dungeon:
In order to focus on the mistreatment of Jeremiah in the dungeon under horrid conditions, I am skipping verses 1-6 and will return to them next week with the story of Gedaliah.
The princes were angry. That seething pot was still boiling. The princes plotted a strategy against the prophet. They had heard the original message of Jeremiah when he spoke to Jehoiakim. They took him to the dungeon, to the worst of the lot, but even in prison, there was a man whose heart was toward God. A black man of Ethiopia was used by the LORD to rescue Jeremiah from death and that hellish grave. (God returned the favor when He sent Philip and began the subsequent development of Christianity in that nation.)
Jeremiah 38: 7-13:
Jeremiah was taken and lowered into the dungeon. Here we have another Bible hero, Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian.
38:7-13: Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; when the King was sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebed-Melech went to the king’s house, and spoke to the king saying, My lord, the king, those men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is likely to die for hunger in the the place where he is, for there is no more bread in the city. The king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying take thirty men with you and take up Jeremiah, the prophet out of the dungeon, before he dies. So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah. Then he said to Jeremiah, “put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.” And Jeremiah did so. So, they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Once again, Jeremiah was summoned to the King, but this time he had the ear of the ruler.
38:14-15: Zedekiah the king sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance of the house of the LORD. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you something. Hide nothing from me.” Jeremiah replied, “If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? If I give you advice, you will not listen to me.”
Prophets have to get over people not listening. When they are afraid or in trouble, they will come to “hear the Word of the LORD,” but often they will twist it to their own selfish will and determination. Jeremiah knows this.
38: 16-18: So, Zedekiah, the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, “as the LORD lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life. Jeremiah replied: “thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.”
Because the King did not wish to be seen consulting the prophet, Zedekiah devised a diversionary plan and asked Jeremiah to go along with it. The king did not want his princes to know he spoke with the prophet. Zedekiah told Jeremiah he was afraid of the Jews who had defected to the Chaldeans.
38:20-22: Jeremiah said, "They shall not deliver you. Please, obey the voice of the LORD which I speak to you. So, it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live. If you refuse to surrender, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be surrendered to the king of Babylon’s princes... vs.23: They shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans. You shall not escape from their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. You shall cause this city to be burned with fire"
When governmental leaders are afraid to be seen with true men of God, that government is about to be destroyed. When government leaders want the man of God to sneak out the back door rather than be seen seeking his prayers, lookout. When high office holders pay more attention to the political scene than they do the word of God, the nation has nothing but judgment ahead.
38:24-25: Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say to you, “Declare to us now what you have said to the king, and also what the king said to you; do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death.”
We can note the similarity between Jeremiah and Paul. Paul followed in Jeremiah’s steps many times, even to dwelling in a house during confinement in Rome. He also suffered much from the Jewish high political sect.
Jeremiah told the princes according to all these words that the king had commanded.
38:28: Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken.
God’s people are not always delivered from trauma and suffering. But if we are called to suffer for the Kingdom of God, we will be given the grace to do so. The great prophet was treated with indignity, lied about, falsely accused, and disrespected on numerous occasions. It is the cost of following Jesus to the Cross.
Our key is to never fail to stand in dignity and with much courage. Never let the devil see you cry or sweat. Jeremiah never once apologized for speaking the truth. He passionately went about the work God set out for him, and he did not lose heart or complain. He knew his calling was sure, his anointing real and his words sharp. Jeremiah was one of God’s hidden ones.
Out of a life of purity, his very presence was a challenge to those in the wrong. The Sons of Zadok must follow his example. When they carried off Ezekiel, they carried off a true Son. Jeremiah was released by the Chaldeans and was free to go where he wished, for what he did and where he went after gaining his freedom is another interesting study.
Next week we will start with Jeremiah 38: 1-6; 39-40 the fall of Jerusalem and the ministry of Gedaliah. This dramatic event is so momentous in the history of God’s people it is recounted four times in scripture (Here, Ch. 52, 2 Kg. 25; 2 Chr. 36). With the fall of Jerusalem, prophecies made over the preceding forty years now come to pass.
God’s warnings finally give way to God’s judgments, and Jeremiah is the only man to have any say in his own future! Offered a place of honor, he chooses instead to throw in his lot with the have-nots left behind in the land of Judah.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from NKJV and KJV. I entered into the labors of Dr. C. R. Oliver, The Road to Captivity; teaching by Carolyn Sissom January 27, 2009. Principles of Present Truth on Jeremiah by: Kelly Varner.