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24 The day came when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took Jeconiah (son of Jehoiakim), king of Judah, into exile along with the princes of Judah and the artisans and skilled laborers from Jerusalem. Sometime after they arrived in Babylon, the Eternal showed me a vision: I looked and saw two baskets of figs placed in front of His temple. One basket was filled with very good figs, freshly ripened, while the other was filled with very bad figs, too rotten to eat.

In 597 b.c. the dreaded King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has Jehoiachin, king of Judah, deported to Babylon. Along with the king, he takes many skilled laborers and craftsmen to help with the great building projects of his empire. While the loss of powerful and talented men is a tragedy, it will not be the end of Judah’s troubles. The prevailing thought of those who remain in Jerusalem is that they have indeed avoided God’s judgment while those in exile are being punished. This shortsighted perspective is corrected by a vision given to Jeremiah.

Eternal One: Jeremiah, what do you see?

Jeremiah: Figs, both good and bad. The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so rotten they cannot be eaten.

At this, the word of the Eternal came to me.

Eternal One: This is what the Eternal God of Israel says: “These good figs are like those who have been taken into exile from Judah, the ones I have sent to Chaldea. And even though they are in captivity, I will watch over them. I will look out for their good. And one day, I will bring them home. Then I will rebuild them and not tear them down; I will plant them anew and not uproot them. I will give them a new, intense desire to know Me because I am the Eternal One. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me completely.

“But the bad figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten are like King Zedekiah of Judah, his leaders, and the citizens of Jerusalem—those who are left behind in Judah and those who escaped to Egypt. So I, the Eternal One, will deal with them like the rotten figs they are. I will make them a horror to the watching world, a disgrace and a lesson for all to learn, an object of scorn and cursing wherever I scatter them. 10 I will send war, famine, and disease against them until they are completely destroyed in the very land I gave to them and their ancestors.”

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