Jeremiah 22 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
A little history lesson is needed to understand the names of the kings who are mentioned in our chapter this morning. After the death of Josiah, the last godly king of Judah, at the hands of Pharaoh Neco II in battle in 609 BC, there were four more kings who briefly reigned over the nation of Judah before Jerusalem was finally destroyed and the nation became a province of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
Hearing of the death of King Josiah, Jehoahaz (aka Shallum), Josiah’s fourth son, was chosen to be king by the people of Judah in 609 BC, but he reigned for only three months that year, for when the Pharaoh heard about his anointing, he immediately dethroned him carrying him off to Egypt.
The Pharaoh then replaced him with his brother, Jehoiakim (aka Eliakim), the second son of Josiah, also in 609 BC. Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years till 598 BC. He was a vassal king of Egypt until the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC when the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians. When Nebuchadnezzar II besieged Jerusalem, Jehoiakim switched his allegiance to the king of Babylon in order to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Instead of paying tribute to Egypt, Jehoiakim paid tribute to Babylon. At that time he also allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take some of the nobility from Jerusalem to Babylon including Daniel and his three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Jehoiakim was a very wicked king who was well known for slaughtering innocent people at will, and Jeremiah confronted him on a number of occasions urging him to repent of this egregious sin along with many others. Eventually Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon and switched his allegiance back to Egypt again and in late 598 BC, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah once more, laying siege to the city of Jerusalem for three months. Finally the Babylonians bound him in chains to take him back to Babylon as a prisoner. At least that was the initial decision, but when they had left the gates of Jerusalem, Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar slaughtered him and his high-ranking officials and dragged their bodies before the walls of Jerusalem as a warning to the Jews. Jeremiah says that he was buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” And later in Jeremiah 36:30 he says, that Jehoiakim’s body was cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night.
Then, in his place, his son Jehoiachin (aka Jeconiah or Coniah) reigned for only three months and eight days when the Babylonians once again attacked Jerusalem and deposed Jehoiachin in 597 BC. Nebuchadnezzar brought him to Babylon where he lived and ate at the king’s table until he died.
Finally, in his place, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah (aka Mattaniah) that same year. Zedekiah was Jehoiachin’s uncle, another son of Josiah. He reigned over Judah for eleven years, but like his predecessors, he rebelled against Babylon and entered into an alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt. Consequently, Nebuchadnezzar once again invaded Judah, beginning a siege of the city Jerusalem in 589 BC that last thirty months. It was at that time, when the Jews were starving to death that women began to eat their own children.
Eventually Zedekiah along with some of his closest followers attempted to escape the siege making their way secretly through one of the walls of the city, but they were captured. Immediately his sons were put to death before his eyes, and then they gouged out his eyes, bound him with chains and carried him off as a captive to Babylon where he remained in prison until he died.
Surely, this is not a glorious ending for the kings of Judah and the house of David. In the following chapter we will read a promise concerning a righteous branch from the house of David that will eventually come to the throne and reign forever. Clearly it is a prophecy concerning Jesus the Christ of the tribe of Judah.
But in the meantime, the faithful prophet Jeremiah is called to stand before a number of kings to confront them concerning their many sins and to call them to repentance. The Church today still bears that responsibility to stand not only as a voice of reason in the midst of a crooked generation, but to say to all those in authority, “Thus says the Lord.” May the Lord continue to give us wisdom and courage in this day to stand up for the rights of the innocent, to cry out for true justice and to remind those in authority that a day of judgment is near for all men.