Jeremiah 22


‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: ‘Hear the word of the LORD to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’ Jeremiah 22:1-5

The morals of the leadership of a nation determine the direction in which the nation is headed. In a corrupt nation, there is no one to take the defence of the poor, widows, orphans and foreigners. If the king will not come to their defence, then the nation is morally doomed.

‘For this is what the LORD says about the palace of the king of Judah: ‘Though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will surely make you like a wasteland, like towns not inhabited. I will send destroyers against you, each man with his weapons, and they will cut up your fine cedar beams and throw them into the fire. ‘People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?’ And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’ Jeremiah 22:6-9

The rulers of Judah remained corrupt and thus reaped the punishment of the Lord. The royal family was taken from the Jewish society and would never rise again on earth. Though the nations remained patriotic to their national gods, Israel forsook her God.

Though the nations did not have a correct view of the covenant between God and Israel, they at least knew that a nation should never forsake her national god. They thus mocked Israel because she broke the covenant between herself and her God by violating the conditions of the covenant with her God.

‘Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss; rather, weep bitterly for him who is exiled, because he will never return nor see his native land again. For this is what the LORD says about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but has gone from this place: ‘He will never return. He will die in the place where they have led him captive; he will not see this land again.’ Jeremiah 22:10-12

Those who were taken into captivity would die in captivity. Jeremiah told the people not to weep for Josiah, but for Shallum who would be taken into captivity by the Egyptians. Josiah was killed by Pharaoh-Necho at Megiddo. The people then made Shallum their king in Jerusalem. However, after three months Pharaoh-Necho took Shallum as a captive in Egypt, 2 Kings 23:30-34. Pharaoh-Necho then placed Eliakim, Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, on the throne.

‘Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labour. He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So, he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. ‘Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the LORD. ‘But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.’ Jeremiah 22:13-17

Jehoiakim was a ruthless and oppressive king. He brought misery upon the people. He followed after his own corrupt heart, exploiting the people for his own gain. He was in power for himself, not to serve the needs of the people. He was so corrupt that he placed his own people in bondage by having them work without pay. He stole the goods of the people, confiscating at will all that pleased his greed. He was a murderous king, Jeremiah 26:23.

Jeremiah contrasted Jehoiakim’s life and reign to the life and reign of his father Josiah. Josiah sought to restore Judah to God. Jehoiakim sought to lead God’s people away from God. The father failed to pass on to his son a moral ethic, for the son gave himself over to rebellion against all for which his father stood.

‘Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: ‘They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my master! Alas, his splendour!’ He will have the burial of a donkey—dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’ Jeremiah 22:18-19

Jehoiakim would come to a disgraceful end. Because he grievously oppressed the people with his corrupt behaviour, no one would lament his death. He would be disposed of as a dead donkey, laid in the sun to rot.

‘Go up to Lebanon and cry out, let your voice be heard in Bashan, cry out from Abarim, for all your allies are crushed. I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me. The wind will drive all your shepherds away, and your allies will go into exile. Then you will be ashamed and disgraced because of all your wickedness. You who live in ‘Lebanon,’ who are nestled in cedar buildings, how you will groan when pangs come upon you, pain like that of a woman in labour!’ Jeremiah 22:20-23

Jeremiah commanded them to go to the north, east and west to those nations on which Judah relied. They would find that these nations were all gone. When they were rich and economically doing well, they had no urge to depend on God. In their self-reliance, they refused to listen to God. However, their idol god of prosperity brought them into poverty and captivity.

The name ‘Lebanon’ was sometimes used in prophecy to refer to Jerusalem. Because the temple and palace were constructed from the cedars of Lebanon, the figure of speech referred to the residents, specifically, the king, as dwelling in houses that were built from the cedars of Lebanon.

‘As surely as I live,’ declares the LORD, ‘even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians. I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. You will never come back to the land you long to return to.’ Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot, an object no one wants? Why will he and his children be hurled out, cast into a land they do not know? O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the LORD says: ‘Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.’ Jeremiah 22:24-30

This oracle of Jeremiah speaks of Jehoiachin before he was taken into captivity, and then of his time in captivity. He was a corrupt and unrighteous king like his father, Jehoiakim. Fortunately, his reign was only three months before Nebuchadnezzar took him and the first group of captives into captivity in 597 B.C.

He and his mother, Nehushta, with his wives, were taken with 10,000 Israelites into Babylonian captivity. Though he was taken into captivity, the Israelites still considered him their king of choice.

Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah, another son of Josiah and uncle to Jehoiachin, on the throne after Jehoiachin was taken into captivity, Jeremiah 28:1-4 / Ezra 17:22.

Though the people may have envisioned Jehoiachin and his descendants continuing the Davidic lineage of kings, Jeremiah pronounced a termination of his heritage as kings in Jerusalem. As national Israel came to an end, never again to enjoy the pride of nationhood, the demise of the nation was symbolised by the termination of the Davidic kingship on earth through the descendants of David.

Earthly kings did Israel no favour in keeping the nation close to God. Earthly kings were fallible, and thus, their leadership behaviour in many ways led the people away from God.

Now that the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel had gone or were going into captivity, God sought a restoration of His sole kingship over the repentant remnant, and eventually with the new spiritual Israel that would be ruled directly from heaven through King Jesus, Ephesians 1:20-23 / Philippians 2:5-11 / 1 Timothy 6:15.

The earthly kings led Israel into destruction. King Jesus would reign from heaven and lead spiritual Israel into victory, Matthew 28:18.

Go To Jeremiah 23