How wild and raw are the emotions of Jeremiah in these days of anticipation! The pain and embarrassment of being publicly punished, the betrayal of his friends, and the ridicule of so many lead to an honest longing for vindication. But there are moments when God’s sustaining love fills the prophet with joy. His are not the rants of a madman. He expects to be vindicated. God has called him to speak truth to powerful people, and those words are becoming reality. To this promise, Jeremiah clings.
But as emotions often do, this sense of resolve again evaporates, leaving the painful awareness of his calling. He must continue to speak hard and frightening words to a people he still loves. He will soon witness the destruction of a country and city he still loves. At times, his task is almost unbearable; but as always, Jeremiah remains honest in his dealings with God who calls him into this role. Sometimes, pouring his heart out is all he can do.
21 It was during this ironic turn of events that the word of the Eternal came again to the prophet, Jeremiah. King Zedekiah sent Pashhur (not the son of Immer mentioned previously, but the son of Malchijah) and the priest Zephaniah (son of Maaseiah) to speak with Jeremiah.
How time changes things! Jeremiah, the rejected prophet, is now being petitioned by those in power. The same man who has been arrested and abused for prophesying God’s judgment is sent a request from the king himself because the words of Jeremiah are indeed coming true before the people’s eyes. Jerusalem now faces certain siege by the Babylonian king. Out of desperation, the same leaders who tried to silence the prophet are now asking him to speak up for them—to God!
King’s Messengers: 2 Please speak to the Eternal on our behalf. We desperately need your help because Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, is attacking Judah and is about to lay siege to Jerusalem. Perhaps the Eternal will respond to you, perform a miracle, and cause this dreaded king to withdraw his forces and leave us alone.
Jeremiah: 3 Tell King Zedekiah that 4 this is what the Eternal, the God of Israel, has to say: “I will indeed rise up and turn back the weapons of war you hold in your hands, the very weapons you plan to use against the approaching enemy—the king of Babylon and his army from Chaldea that now surrounds your city walls. I will bring that enemy inside your walls, into the city itself. 5 With My strong hand and powerful arm I will rise up and fight against you, fueled by My great wrath, anger, and fury. Do you think I will fight beside you? You misunderstand. 6 I will strike those who live in this city with a plague: both man and beast will die. 7 After that,” says the Eternal, “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his advisors, and the citizens of Jerusalem who survive the plague, the war, and the famine to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, their enemy, and those who seek their lives. In that dreadful day, he will slaughter them without mercy. He[a] will neither pity nor have compassion for them.
Eternal One (to Jeremiah): 8 Tell the people that I said, “I will give you the choice of life or death. 9 Stay in the city, and you will die by war, famine, or plague. But walk outside the city walls and surrender to the Chaldean army about to lay siege to your city, and you will live. You will be prisoners of war, but you’ll be rewarded with life. 10 For I have turned My back on this city, purposing evil instead of good. The city will be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon, who will burn it to the ground.”
11 To the royal household of Judah say, “Hear the word of the Eternal. 12 O house of David, this is what He has to say to you:
Administer justice each morning;
save the victim from the hand of the thief.
If you do not, My anger will burn and no one will be able to put it out
because they themselves have done evil.
13 I am against you, Jerusalem, enthroned high above the valley,
O rock of the plain,
You who boast, “Who will come down to fight against us,
and who will enter our homes?”
14 I will visit you, Jerusalem, and punish you for your wicked deeds.
I will start a fire in your forests that will surround you and consume everything.
So says the Eternal.
- 21:7 Greek manuscripts read, “I.”