I have been impacted by this study of Jeremiah in so many ways. Writing an overview each week of what we are reading together, then reading together during the week, and finally writing this blog at the end of our reading, I am seeing things that come through repetition and layering. The Book of Jeremiah itself, is not in chronological order, skipping from Kings to Kings.
Jeremiah prophesies for forty-one years through the reigns of five kings. The last king, Zedekiah, was put in office by Nebuchadnezzar after he had taken Jehoiachin (Coniah), three thousand and twenty-three Jews, and the Temple treasures, back to Babylon. Zedekiah reigns for eleven years and is in rebellion against God and Nebuchadnezzar. He is a sad king, caught in the political drama of a proud people refusing the discipline of the Lord.
Time and time again, Zedekiah tried to do right (like the freeing of the Hebrew slaves) only to capitulate to the will of the people. God however is always trying to find obedience in order to bring salvation and continually makes a way of escape.
Chapter thirty-six is the fourth year of Jehoiakim (seven years before chapter thirty-seven (the first year of Zedekiah). There is still time. God has Jeremiah write everything down in a scroll, to be read in the temple during the fast. People hear and the princes hear, but King Jehoiakim burns the scroll. God has Jeremiah write another one.
In Chapter thirty-seven, the word of the Lord is “Surrender to the King of Babylon and God will save the city from destruction”. But no, Jeremiah goes in and out of dungeons and prisons until finally the wall is breached and the city is taken. Zedekiah meets a horrible fate, and Jeremiah is freed and asked to stay with Gedaliah the newly appointed governor by Neuzaradan, the caption of the guard.
Submission to God, in His Son Jesus Christ Humility to accept His provision and discipline. Obedience to do what He says depending on His mercy and grace is salvation in every situation. The characters change but the issue is always “control”. I want to control my life; God wants me to submit my life to His Son. I think I am, but in fact, I am doing my own will. God pleads with me in His word and by His Spirit. Sometimes I listen, but most of the time I do not. I am righteous in my own eyes.
Where are we in America, in Jeremiah? I hope not at the end. I hope hearts return to the Lord in humility, trust, and dependence on the Lord’s mercy and grace. I hope that refraining from our own works of righteousness and speaking of wickedness, is all that the Lord requires. I hope that in forgiveness to our brothers, and throwing away our idols, we can again trust the Lord for His mercy and grace. In humility, and honest prayer, and seeking His face, we turn from our wicked ways, and the Lord hears from heaven, forgives our sins, and heals our land. I hope.