This chapter covers a prayer from Zedekiah, king of Judah, and God’s retort to the sinful king.
Jeremiah Chapter 21
Lessons from the text
Do Not Rebel
Zedekiah was the final king of Judah, placing the events of Jeremiah 21 in the final days of the city of Jerusalem. Chronologically, this chapter falls after Nebuchadnezzar has defeated Judah once. Zedekiah chose to resist Babylonian rule, and so Nebuchadnezzar is not coming to conquer a nation but instead is subduing a rebellion.
Taking this into consideration, it is odd that the king would ask Jeremiah to pray on his behalf to defend the city against Babylon. God gave Judah into the hands of Babylon because of their sins. God distinctly established Babylon as rulers over His people. (Jer. 4:3-7) For Zedekiah to rebel against those who God had established as having authority over him was for Zedekiah to rebel against God. That is, the king was not accepting the rule of those whom God has placed as his superior. This was utter foolishness.
Zedekiah believed that he was the victim. Babylon was coming to conquer him. However, if anyone was a victim it was Nebuchadnezzar, for the person who was supposed to be his servant chose to lead a rebellion against him. Rightfully so, Nebuchadnezzar came to exact vengeance for this betrayal.
This exposes the vast confusion of the person in sin. Believing themselves righteous, they loose perspective of the truth, choosing to view themselves as victims, superior, or privileged. The truth is, if you choose to sin, you have debased yourself to the lowest degree imaginable in the eyes of God.
Do not expect God to answer your prayers for deliverance for the rebellion that you yourself instigated in your sin. A prayer for forgiveness, that He might hear, but most assuredly He will not hear a prayer asking Him to sweep in and bless you because you deserve it. If you rebel against a sovereign, holy God by rebelling against His commandments and authorities, then you can rest assured that unless you repent, you will have to stand in judgment for your rebellion.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-2 This Pashur is the son of Melchiah, thus distinguishing him from Pashur the son of Immer who placed Jeremiah in the stocks. King Hezekiah validates Jeremiah as a true prophet by seeking council from the Lord through him. Despite all of Jeremiah’s prophecies exposing the sins of the people, King Zedekiah foolishly believes that God will protect and deliver them just as He did for Joshua and David.
3-7 Instead of fighting against their enemies as King Zedekiah had hoped, God will fight against the Jews. Not only will God weaken the military might of Israel but also He will send fatal diseases against the people and livestock. God will deliver Zedekiah from death but not as the king desires. He will spare his life so that he may spend his years serving out the sentence of judgment for his sins. The king will have to watch the slaughter of his people. See II Kings 24:17-25:9 for the historical account.
8 See Deut. 28:1-68, 30:19.
9-10 Jeremiah's words can here be construed as treason: he is telling the people to abandoned the city and surrender to the Babylonians. This highlights the difference between man’s and God's perspective of events. Those who will not go out to the invading army will have failed to heed God’s prophecies against Jerusalem and are therefore found to be disobedient to God. This prophecy is fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign (II Ki. 25:9).
11-12 Because Zedekiah has failed to judge in righteousness and justice, God is preparing to unleash unquenchable judgment against the king. The implication here is that if Zedekiah would turn around and begin to rule in righteousness then God would not destroy the city. This message reflects a earlier prophecy given against Jehoiakim; Jeremiah is reminding Zedekiah of the words God proclaimed several years earlier (Jer. 22:2-9). See also Luke 12:48, Jer. 17:27.
13-14 Not only have the people sinned greatly but also they are arrogant in that they fail to recognize that they stand under God's judgment and not His blessing. As King Zedekiah’s request reveals, he and the people falsely believe that they are innocent of any wrongdoing. God, however, says that their sins are plenteous enough to constitute a forest that He will burn down. See also v.12.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
Please comment below to share what you learned from today's lesson.