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Times Under Zedekiah and Jehoiakim 

Jeremiah 34–36 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 21, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 

  1. Chaps 34–45 • Labor and Suffering of Jeremiah 
  2. Chaps 34–36 • Times Under Zedekiah and Jehoiakim 
    1. Chap 34 • Slaves Freed, Then Retrieved 
      1. 34.1–7 • Zedekiah’s Fate

        1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem and all its cities, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 3 And you shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.” 4 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: “You shall not die by the sword. 5 You shall die in peace; as in the ceremonies of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they shall burn incense for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!” For I have pronounced the word, says the LORD.” 6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, 7 when the king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah.

        – Jeremiah 34.1–7
        1. Nebuchadnezzar came not only with his mighty army, but with the armies of the nations that he had conquered. 
        2. The Lord had Jeremiah affirm what would happen, and it happened just as the Lord stated. 
          1. The king of Babylon would conquer Jerusalem and 
          2. burn it with fire. 
          3. Zedekiah would not escape, but 
          4. he would meet Nebuchadnezzar face to face. 
          5. Zedekiah would not die by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar. 
          6. He would die in peace. 
          7. The Jews would honor Zedekiah at his death. 
      2. 34.8–10 • Set Slaves Free

        8 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them: 9 that every man should set free his male and female slave—a Hebrew man or woman—that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage. 10 Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go.

        – Jeremiah 34.8–10
        1. The Law was clear:

          1 “Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: 2 If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing.”

          – Exodus 21.1–2
        2. Leviticus provided more details:

          39 “And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. 40 As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43 You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God. 44 And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have—from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. 45 Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. 46 And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.”

          – Leviticus 25.39–46
        3. Therefore, they did the right thing. 
          1. Perhaps they would start to do other things that the Lord wanted them to do and 
          2. perhaps they would cease doing the evil things that they had been doing. 
      3. 34.11 • Slaves Retrieved

        But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.

        – Jeremiah 34.11
        1. That sounds like Pharaoh changing his mind after letting Israel go. 
        2. If the Jews had simply remembered how Pharaoh let the people go and then then changed his mind, perhaps they would not have imitated his actions. 
        3. They should have seen these men and women as their brethren, but they only saw them as slaves. 
        4. They had become like Ephraim:

          8 “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples;
          Ephraim is a cake unturned.”

          – Hosea 7.8
        5. The good they had accomplished, they completely negated it. 
        6. The Lord expects us to keep our word:

          2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
          And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
          For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
          Therefore let your words be few.
          3 For a dream comes through much activity,
          And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
          4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
          For He has no pleasure in fools.
          Pay what you have vowed—
          5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

          6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.

          – Ecclesiastes 5.2–7
      4. 34.12–16 • Profaning God’s Name

        12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 13 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, 14 At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.” But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear. 15 Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight—every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. 16 Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom he had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.”

        – Jeremiah 34.12–16
        1. The Lord laid out the case against them, but commending them for when they briefly did what was right. 
        2. However, by placing their brethren back into slavery and by breaking a covenant that they had made, 
          1. they profaned the name of God. 
          2. How did that profane the name of the Lord? 
            1. They did it because of the Lord. 
            2. Then when they turned against it that was speaking against Him. 
            3. Listen to what Paul said in Romans:

              17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

              – Romans 2.17–24
              1. You see the idea. 
              2. The same thing can be said about Christians who do as the Jews did. 
      5. 34.17–22 • Withholding Liberty

        17 Therefore thus says the LORD: “You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,” says the LORD—“to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it— 19 the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20 I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth. 21 And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army which has gone back from you. 22 Behold, I will command,’ says the LORD, “and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.’ ”

        – Jeremiah 34.17–22
        1. Withhold liberty from those to whom it is due and 
          1. be liberated to punishment. 
          2. God would cease protecting them from harm. 
        2. Why should He allow them to benefit from people whom they were capturing? 
        3. Compare what the Lord said about making a covenant in verse 18 to Genesis 15. 
    2. Chap 35 • The Rechabites 
      1. 35.1–11 • Obedience to Their Father

        1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, 2 “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.” 3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, 4 and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. 5 Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine.” 6 But they said, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. 7 You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’ 8 Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. 10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, ‘Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.’ So we dwell at Jerusalem.”

        – Jeremiah 35.1–11
        1. Jeremiah must have wondered why the Lord told him to bring the Rechabites to the temple and to serve them wine. 
          1. However, Jeremiah knew that the Lord always has a purpose for things. 
          2. He did what the Lord said to do without question. 
        2. Why did Jonadab ask his sons to abstain from all those things? 
          1. See Second Kings 10.15–28 for background on this man. 
          2. Brother Wayne Jackson says the Rechabites had been doing this for 200 years. 
          3. Anyway, he may have asked his sons to do these things that they might be free to move about, and when a town or tribe became corrupt, they could move easily. 
          4. This enabled them to flee easily when Babylon attacked. 
      2. 35.12–17 • Why Could Israel Not Do the Same?

        12 Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying, 13 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction to obey My words? says the LORD. 14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me. 15 I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers. But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me. 16 Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me. 17 Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.”

        – Jeremiah 35.12–17
        1. All of this is based on the idea that God is greater than Jonadab. 
        2. If men can obey the lesser, why can’t they obey the greater? 
        3. Jonadab did not have to tell his sons to repent, but God has to tell His people to repent. 
        4. The sons of Jonadab demonstrated that obedience is possible. 
          1. Since God’s people would not obey Him, 
          2. it was intentional. 
            1. Therefore, the Lord promised to bring all the doom that He had spoken of to Judah and Jerusalem. 
            2. God had called to them, but they had not answered. 
      3. 35.18–19 • God’s Promise to the Rechabites

        18 And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.”

        – Jeremiah 35.18–19
        1. Obedience brings the sweetest rewards. 
        2. What does it mean that they would not lack a man to stand before the Lord? 
        3. Why is that a blessing? 
          1. Don’t you want to know that your family after you shall stand before God? 
          2. Standing before God in this context shows favor. 
    3. Chap 36 • Indestructible Scripture 
      1. 36.1–3 • Write the Word

        1 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

        – Jeremiah 36.1–3
        1. Do not think of the narrative as always following chronology. 
          1. What we are about to see in Jeremiah 36, 
          2. happened during the reign of Jehoiakim, 
          3. who preceded his brother Zedekiah on the throne. 
        2. Josiah was an excellent king. 
          1. He was a man of God who restored true religion in Judah. 
          2. However, his sons did not follow his righteousness. 
        3. Men did not invent Scripture, but they wrote at the direction of the Lord. 
          1. Here the Lord specified the time of Jeremiah’s ministry that He wanted the prophet to write down. 
          2. That time would be from Josiah to the present at the time of this writing. 
        4. The Lord even revealed why He wanted the prophet to write: 
          1. That the people might repent. 
          2. That He might forgive them. 
      2. 36.4–8 • Amanuensis

        4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him. 5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD. 6 You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the LORD’S house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities. 7 It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people.” 8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD’S house.

        – Jeremiah 36.4–8
        1. Jeremiah dictated what we have as the first 35 chapters of the Book of Jeremiah. 
        2. Next, everyone needed to hear what the Lord said through Jeremiah. 
        3. The hope was 
          1. that they would present their supplication to the Lord, and 
          2. that they would turn from their evil way. 
        4. They needed to know of the greatness of the Lord’s anger and His fury against the people. 
        5. Baruch was faithful to his job. 
      3. 36.9–10 • Read During the Fast

        9 Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem. 10 Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD’S house, in the hearing of all the people.

        – Jeremiah 36.9–10
        1. While the people had turned from the Lord, 
        2. they had not turned from religion, 
          1. although it was false religion. 
          2. They held a fast. 
        3. While the people had their minds on spiritual things, 
          1. that is when Baruch went to read to them. 
          2. Perhaps they would open their minds to the truth then. 
      4. 36.11–19 • Hearing with Fear

        11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the LORD from the book, 12 he then went down to the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber; and there all the princes were sitting—Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. 13 Then Michaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read the book in the hearing of the people. 14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, “Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. 15 And they said to him, “Sit down now, and read it in our hearing.” So Baruch read it in their hearing. 16 Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, “We will surely tell the king of all these words.” 17 And they asked Baruch, saying, “Tell us now, how did you write all these words—at his instruction?” 18 So Baruch answered them, “He proclaimed with his mouth all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the book.” 19 Then the princes said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah; and let no one know where you are.”

        – Jeremiah 36.11–19
        1. When one man heard the word, 
          1. his first response was to tell others, because 
          2. he wanted them to hear what he had heard. 
            1. Is that not how you think? 
            2. We all believe that if our society would listen to the word of God, they would repent. 
        2. The new group of people wanted to hear the word also. 
          1. They had the same response. 
          2. They heard the word and 
            1. wanted others to hear, 
            2. especially the king. 
        3. They wanted to know how Baruch had collected the word. 
        4. We get discourage, 
          1. believing that no one will hear the word, but 
          2. this should show that there are always people who want to hear. 
      5. 36.20–26 • Some Attack the Word

        20 And they went to the king, into the court; but they stored the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the hearing of the king. 21 So the king sent Jehudi to bring the scroll, and he took it from Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king. 22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. 23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.

        – Jeremiah 36.20–26
        1. Why do you think they wanted the scroll hidden? 
          1. They recognized it for what it was, the word of God. 
          2. Since that was the only copy, they wanted it kept safe. 
        2. They informed the king of the writing. 
          1. The king wanted it brought to him. 
          2. However, he had ulterior motives. 
        3. Then he did the unthinkable. 
          1. He cut up the writing and threw it into the fire. 
          2. He probably thought that he had gotten rid of that problem. 
        4. Note the contrast in responses: 
          1. The king and his men 
            1. did not fear, and 
            2. they did not tear their garments. 
          2. However, the men who had approached the king, 
            1. begged him not to destroy the words of Jeremiah. 
            2. However, the king and his men refused to hear the words of God by Jeremiah 
              1. whether he was in person or 
              2. whether it was his writing. 
        5. The king thought to be rid of the whole problem 
          1. by having Baruch and Jeremiah arrested, but 
          2. the Lord worked and saved them. 
      6. 36.27–32 • Scripture Written Again

        27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: 28 “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. 29 And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus says the LORD: You have burned this scroll, saying, Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?” 30 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed.” 32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.

        – Jeremiah 36.27–32
        1. Not only could the Lord duplicate what He had said before, but 
        2. He could, and did, add more words. 
          1. This assures me 
            1. that if there is a God in heaven, 
            2. He knows how to make sure that we get His pure word. 
          2. You possess the Bible that God wants you to have.