Scripture reading – Jeremiah 38; Jeremiah 39

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With the army of the Chaldeans (Babylon) encamped outside the walls of Jerusalem, the people within faced a time of suffering that was horrible to behold. Famine and disease afflicted the nation (Jeremiah 38:1), yet the king and his counsel refused to heed Jeremiah’s warning that all would perish if the city did not surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.


Jeremiah 38 – Singing the Prison Blues


Jeremiah’s Fearless Preaching (Jeremiah 38:1-3) 

Jeremiah 38:1 named four men of the king’s counsel. Those men set themselves against Jeremiah and not only charged him with treason but demanded his death (Jeremiah 38:4). Before he was imprisoned, the prophet foretold only those who went “forth to the Chaldeans [would] live” (Jeremiah 38:2), for Jerusalem would fall “into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army” (Jeremiah 38:3).


The Wicked Counsel of Jeremiah’s Enemies (Jeremiah 38:4-6)

Obstinate and foolish, the king’s officials (“princes”) disparaged Jeremiah to the king. They accused the prophet of discouraging the people and weakening their resolve to defend the city (Jeremiah 36:4). King Zedekiah, true to his wicked character, betrayed God’s prophet into the hands of his enemies and permitted Jeremiah’s enemies to seize and imprison him. They “cast him into the dungeon…that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords… And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire” (Jeremiah 36:6).  


Ebedmelech Interceded for Jeremiah

Ebedmelech Interceded for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:7-13)

Providentially, there was a man named Ebedmelech, an Ethiopian, who realized the injustices suffered by Jeremiah and interceded for God’s prophet. He petitioned the king to save the old prophet from the dungeon (Jeremiah 38:8), knowing he was “like to die for hunger in the place” (Jeremiah 38:9). Zedekiah honored Ebedmelech’s request and commanded 30 men to deliver Jeremiah from the dungeon, to “the court of the prison” (Jeremiah 38:10). With dirty rags and old garments, they fashioned a rope and lifted Jeremiah out of the dungeon. (Jeremiah 38:11-13).


Zedekiah’s Secret Consultation with Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:14-24)

Soon after, Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and, in secret, inquired of the prophet, “I will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me” (Jeremiah 38:14). The king wanted to know what would become of him and the nation, but Jeremiah did not trust the king and feared he would both reject his words and kill him (Jeremiah 38:15). The king answered Jeremiah’s fears. He assured the prophet he would not be harmed (Jeremiah 38:16).

Tragically, nothing had changed in what God proposed and foretold for Jerusalem through his prophet. Jeremiah counseled the king he must surrender the city, or death and destruction would befall the king’s family and his city (Jeremiah 38:20). Refusing to surrender the city to Nebuchadnezzar would surely bring mocking from the women of the king’s household for heeding the counsel of his “friends” (Jeremiah 38:21-22). Finally, the king’s harem and his children would become slaves in Babylon, and the city would be burned to the ground (Jeremiah 38:23).


Zedekiah Rejected the Prophet’s Counsel (Jeremiah 38:24-28)

Fearing the wrath of men rather than the judgment of God (Jeremiah 38:19), Zedekiah demanded that Jeremiah would tell no one of his conversation with the king (Jeremiah 38:24-25). Should someone ask what he said to the king, Jeremiah was to answer that he had requested the king not to return him to the dungeon (Jeremiah 38:26).


Closing thoughts for Jeremiah 38 –

Those men who hated Jeremiah came demanding what he had spoken to the king, and Jeremiah answered as the king instructed (26:27). “So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken” (Jeremiah 38:28).

Jeremiah 39 – The Final Siege

Jeremiah 39 – The Final Siege


The Fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1-3)

The Babylonian siege lasted 18 months, and the sorrows and afflictions within the city were overwhelming and are recorded in the Book of Lamentations (Lamentations 4:4-5, 9-11, 18).


King Zedekiah’s Flight and Capture (Jeremiah 39:4-7)

Having failed to heed Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender the city to Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah was forced to flee the city (Jeremiah 39:4), but the Chaldean army pursued and overtook him (Jeremiah 39:5). Then the Chaldeans brought Zedekiah to Nebuchadnezzar where he passed judgment (Jeremiah 39:5)

Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the king of Judah look on as his sons were slain “before his eyes” as were also “all the nobles of Judah” (Jeremiah 39:6). Lastly, Zedekiah’s eyes were put out, and he was bound in chains, and carried to Babylon (Jeremiah 39:7).


The Destruction of Jerusalem and Captivity of the People (Jeremiah 39:8-10)

The city of Jerusalem was burned, including “the king’s house, and the houses of the people” (Jeremiah 39:8). Then the walls of the city were leveled to the ground (Jeremiah 39:8). The remnant of the people who survived the siege was then led away to Babylon. Only the poorest people were left to occupy the land (Jeremiah 39:9-10).

The Prophet Jeremiah Spared (Jeremiah 39:11-14)

The Prophet Jeremiah Spared (Jeremiah 39:11-14)

In a testimony of God’s sovereignty and an ironic but providential twist of fate, Nebuchadnezzar released Jeremiah from prison. The king of Babylon then directed his servants to care for the prophet’s needs and released him to go home (Jeremiah 39:11-14; Jeremiah 40:1-6). 


The Protection Afforded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian (Jeremiah 39:15-18)

For his faith in the LORD and his faithfulness to Jeremiah, the LORD delivered Ebedmelech from the sword as He promised (Jeremiah 39:18).


Closing thoughts

History is “His [God’s] Story” and a testimony of the providential work of the LORD, Who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all things.  The LORD is El Shaddai, Almighty God, and He directs the evil purposes of men to the ends that are good for His people and His glory (Romans 8:28-29). 

Whatever circumstances you face, or whoever your enemy might be, they are not greater, nor are they beyond the sovereignty of El Shaddai – Almighty God!

“Blessed be the name of the LORD!

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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