Jeremiah 37:1-38:28; 1 Timothy 6:1-21; Psalms 89:38-52; Proverbs 25:28 (The Voice)
37 Zedekiah (son of Josiah) was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He reigned instead of his nephew, Coniah (son of Jehoiakim) who had already been deported to Babylon. 2 Neither young Zedekiah nor his inexperienced advisors nor the people of Judah themselves listened to what the Eternal said through His prophet Jeremiah.
3 Zedekiah one day sent Jehucal (son of Shelemiah), along with the priest Zephaniah (son of Maaseiah) to ask the prophet Jeremiah, “Please pray to the Eternal our God for us.” 4 Now Jeremiah had not yet been put in prison, so he was free to move about the city. 5 This happened when the Chaldeans pulled back from their siege on Jerusalem because they heard Pharaoh’s army was marching out of Egypt toward them. 6 It was then that the word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah the prophet, who faithfully delivered it to the king’s messengers.
Jeremiah: 7 This is what the Eternal God of Israel has to say: “Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to ask for My help: ‘Look! Pharaoh’s army—which you hoped would help you—will turn back to Egypt to protect its own land. 8 Then the Chaldeans will come back to attack Jerusalem. They will capture this city and burn it to the ground.’” 9 The Eternal says this to you: “Do not fool yourselves into thinking the Chaldeans will leave you alone. They will not! 10 Even if somehow you defeated their entire army, their wounded soldiers lying in tents would come out and burn this city to the ground in a fiery blaze.”
11 Now during this time when the Chaldeans had pulled back from Jerusalem to face Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave Jerusalem. He was heading back to the land of Benjamin to settle his affairs regarding a piece of family property there.[a] 13 But as he was leaving through the Benjamin gate on the north side of the city, the captain of the guard, Irijah (son of Shelemiah and grandson of Hananiah), arrested him.
Many years have now passed since Jehoiakim’s arrogant scroll-burning incident, but the prophecies against him and his people are coming to pass: Babylon is now exerting its power in the land, and Jehoiakim’s legacy has indeed crumbled. His own son Jehoiachin (also known as Coniah) has already been sent into exile by the Babylonians in 598 b.c. In his place, Nebuchadnezzar has placed Zedekiah on the throne of Judah. This new king has pledged to remain loyal to Babylon in exchange for the crown. And while he is not as arrogant and openly rebellious as Jehoiakim, in his own weak way, he, too, disobeys God. At times he seems genuinely interested in the words of Jeremiah, but he never shows the courage necessary to obey God during this dramatic time. Throughout his 11 year reign (597-587 b.c.), Zedekiah is unable to stand up to his advisors and at one point agrees to break with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, siding instead with the pharaoh of Egypt. This sets in motion the final retaliation of the Babylonians, including the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.
Irijah: You traitor! You are trying to desert to the Chaldeans!
Jeremiah: 14 That’s not true! I’m not deserting to the Chaldeans.
But Irijah would not listen to Jeremiah, so he arrested him and brought him to the city leaders. 15 They were already angry with Jeremiah because of his predictions of destruction and his advice to surrender. So they had Jeremiah beaten and placed him under arrest in the house of Jonathan the secretary (which they had made into a prison). 16 He was placed in a dark, damp cell below ground and left there for a long time.
17 Eventually, King Zedekiah had him secretly brought to the palace so the king could talk with him.
King Zedekiah: Have you received any more messages from the Eternal?
Jeremiah: Yes, but they haven’t changed: you will still be handed over to the king of Babylon. But while I’m here, let me ask you— 18 what crime have I committed against you, your advisors, or this nation that I should be imprisoned? 19 I told you nothing but the truth about Babylon from the beginning, so why am I in this cell? Meanwhile, your so-called prophets keep telling you, “Don’t worry, the king of Babylon will never attack you or this land,” and they go unpunished? 20 Please, I’m asking you, my lord the king, do not send me back to that cell in the house of Jonathan the secretary, or I will die there.
21 Though the news he heard was not encouraging, King Zedekiah granted Jeremiah’s request. He gave the order and had the prophet transferred to the court of the guard. He also gave strict orders that each day Jeremiah be given bread from the city’s bakers until the supplies ran out. That is how Jeremiah ended up a prisoner in the court of the guard.
38 Shephatiah (son of Mattan), Gedaliah (son of Pashhur), Jucal (son of Shelemiah), and Pashhur (son of Malchijah) overheard Jeremiah speaking to the people of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah: 2 The Eternal says that anyone who stays in the city will die by war, famine, or disease; but those who surrender to the Chaldeans will at least have some reward—they’ll keep their own lives. 3 The Eternal has proclaimed that Jerusalem will be handed over to the army of Babylon’s king, who will capture it.
4 When these officials heard Jeremiah’s remarks, they advised the king.
Court Officials (to King Zedekiah): This man is a traitor; he should be put to death! His words border on treason; they are affecting the morale of what troops we still have in the city, as well as all the rest of the people. This man does not have the best interests of this people at heart—only their downfall.
King Zedekiah: 5 Look, do what you want with Jeremiah. The king will not interfere.
6 So they took Jeremiah and threw him into a muddy cistern in the court of the guard that belonged to the king’s son, Malchijah. Rather than killing him immediately, these officials lowered Jeremiah by ropes into this deep, dark cistern where he sank into the mud. Now he would be silenced. Soon he would be dead.
7-8 But another court servant in the palace, Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, overheard that Jeremiah had been dropped down into this cistern. So he left the palace and went directly to the king who was sitting in the Benjamin gate where he was holding court for the people.
Ebed-melech: 9 My lord the king, do you know what some of your court officials have done? They have done a wicked thing to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a muddy cistern and left him to die, which will surely happen when he, like the rest of the city, runs out of food.
King Zedekiah (to Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian): 10 Take 30[b] of my men with you, and rescue Jeremiah the prophet from that cistern before he dies.
11 So Ebed-melech did as the king commanded and took the men with him. But before he left the palace, he went to a room under the treasury. There he found some rags and old clothes that he lowered with the ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-melech the Ethiopian then called down into the cistern and told Jeremiah:
Ebed-melech: Put these rags and old clothes under your armpits so the ropes won’t hurt you as we pull you up.
The prophet did as he was told, 13 and the men pulled Jeremiah out of that muddy cistern. Still however, Jeremiah remained a prisoner in the court of the guard.
Sometime later Zedekiah summons Jeremiah. This will be the last encounter between prophet and king. Will the king finally respond with courage and faith to the word of God? Despite decades of warnings from a faithful prophet who has the courage to speak truth regardless of the consequences, Jerusalem and her leaders continue to disobey God. And now Jeremiah’s dreaded predictions come true. After a long siege that leaves the city weak and impoverished, the walls of Jerusalem are breached.
14 King Zedekiah sent for the prophet Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance to the Eternal’s temple.
King Zedekiah: I am going to ask you something, and I want you to tell me the truth; don’t hold anything back.
Jeremiah: 15 If I give you another honest answer, how do I know you won’t kill me? Besides, even if I do give you advice, you won’t listen to me.
King Zedekiah (leaning in so no one could hear this secret oath): 16 Jeremiah, as surely as the Eternal lives and gives us life, I promise not to kill you or hand you over to those who want you dead.
Jeremiah: 17 All right. This is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, the God of Israel, says about your situation: “If you surrender to the officials of the Babylonian king, you will survive this invasion and Jerusalem will not be burned to the ground. You and your entire family will live. 18 But if you refuse to surrender to the officials of the Babylonian king, not only will this city be handed over to the Chaldeans, but they will burn it to the ground and you will not escape their punishment.”
King Zedekiah: 19 But I am afraid of the Judeans who have already defected and gone over to the Chaldeans. What if our captors hand me over to them and they abuse and torture me?
Jeremiah: 20 That will not happen. The Babylonians will not hand you over to your former subjects. This is your chance to obey the voice of the Eternal by just doing what I tell you. You will come out of this alive, and things will go well for you if you do what God says. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, let me tell you something else the Eternal revealed to me: 22 “All of the women left in your palace will be taken and given to officials of the Babylonian king. As they are being led away, those women will mock you and say:
Look how they misled you and defeated you—
these so-called friends of yours.
While your feet sank in the mud,
your friends all deserted you.
23 All your wives and sons will be marched out before the Chaldeans. And as for you, Zedekiah, you will not escape capture by the king of Babylon. As for this city, Jerusalem, it will be burned to the ground.”
King Zedekiah: 24 Do not tell anyone about our conversation, or you may be killed! We must keep this a secret. 25 If my officials learn that I spoke to you, they may come to you and threaten you saying, “Tell us everything you told the king and what he said to you. Don’t try to hide anything from us or we will execute you.” 26 If that happens, tell them, “I was only begging the king not to send me back to Jonathan’s house again because I was afraid of dying there.”
27 The king’s officials were curious about the encounter and did come to Jeremiah and question him just as Zedekiah had predicted. So Jeremiah responded as the king instructed and shared only what they had agreed earlier. Because no one overheard the conversation between Jeremiah and Zedekiah, the officials eventually stopped questioning him. 28 Jeremiah remained a prisoner in the court of the guard until the sorrowful day Jerusalem was captured.
1 Timothy 6
6 Tell all who labor under the yoke of slavery to treat their masters with honor and respect, whether or not their masters deserve it. This will keep God’s name and doctrine from being smeared. 2 If their masters are believers, then they should not be insolent toward them just because they are your brothers and sisters. Actually they should be even more determined to serve them because the gains from their good works benefit those who are faithful and loved.
Timothy, teach these instructions, and appeal to those under your ministry to live by them. 3 If others are teaching otherwise and bringing unhealthy conversations to the community, if they are not sticking to the sound words in the teaching of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, if they are not teaching godly principles— 4 then they are swollen with conceit, filled with self-importance, and without any proper understanding. They probably have a gross infatuation with controversy and will endlessly debate meanings of words. That kind of talk leads to envy, discord, slander, and evil mistrust; 5 and these people constantly bicker because they are depraved in their minds and bereft of the truth. They think somehow that godliness is the way to get ahead. 6 This is ironic because godliness, along with contentment, does put us ahead but not in the ways some imagine. 7 You see we came into this world with nothing, and nothing is going with us on the way out! 8 So as long as we are clothed and fed, we should be happy. 9 But those who chase riches are constantly falling into temptation and snares. They are regularly caught by their own stupid and harmful desires, dragged down and pulled under into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money—and what it can buy—is the root of all sorts of evil. Some already have wandered away from the true faith because they craved what it had to offer; but when reaching for the prize, they found their hands and hearts pierced with many sorrows.
11 Timothy, don’t let this happen to you—run away from these things! You are a man of God. Your quest is for justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
Paul asks this young leader to shepherd a divided congregation through one problem after another. He points to a time when Jesus will arrive to set this world straight.
12 Fight the good fight of the faith! Cling to the eternal life you were called to when you confessed the good confession before witnesses. 13 Before God—the life-giving Creator of all things—and Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, who made the good confession to Pontius Pilate, I urge you: 14 keep His commandment. Have a spotless, indisputable record until our Lord Jesus the Anointed appears to set this world straight. 15 In His own perfect time, He will come—blessed is the only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. 16 He alone possesses immortality; He makes His home in matchless, blinding, brilliant light that no one can approach—no mortal has ever even seen Him, and no human can. So let it be that all honor and eternal power are His. Amen.
17 Here’s what you say to those wealthy in regard to this age: “Don’t become high and mighty or place all your hope on a gamble for riches; instead, fix your hope on God, the One who richly provides everything for our enjoyment.” 18 Tell them to use their wealth for good things; be rich in good works! If they are willing to give generously and share everything, 19 then they will send ahead a great treasure for themselves and build their futures on a solid foundation. As a result, they will surely take hold of eternal life.
20 O Timothy, protect what was entrusted to you! Walk away from all the godless, empty voices out there, and turn aside from objections and arguments that arise from false knowledge. 21 (By professing such knowledge, some are missing the mark when it comes to true faith.)
May God’s grace be with you.
38 But what now? You have turned Your back and walked away!
Your full fury burns against Your anointed king.
39 You made a covenant with Your servant, then renounced it,
casting his sacred crown into the dust.
40 You have broken down the walls that protected Your servant;
his defenses are reduced to a pile of rubble.
41 Strangers now plunder all that he has left;
he has become a laughingstock among his neighbors.
42 You have made his adversaries strong.
His enemies celebrate their victory.
43 You have dulled the blade of his sword,
and You have not helped him stand strong in the battle.
44 You have brought his days of splendor to an abrupt end;
You have toppled his throne;
it sits in the dust.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth
and have covered him with shame and despair.
46 How long must we endure, O Eternal One?
Will You hide Yourself forever?
How long will Your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember my days are numbered.
Have You created the children of Adam to live futile lives?
48 Death waits at the gate; who can escape and live?
Does the grave hold exceptions for any of us?
Who can deliver us from the power of the grave?
49 O Lord, where is the unfailing love You showed in times past?
And where is the proof of Your faithfulness to David?
50 Remember how Your servants are ridiculed, O Lord;
how I carry within me the insults of so many peoples.
51 Your enemies are mocking me, O Eternal One,
mocking every step Your anointed one made.
52 Praise the Eternal always. Amen. Amen.
28 Like a conquered city with no walls,
so is a man who has no self-control.