King Jehoiakim died on his way to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6), and his son Jehoiachin was appointed king, but Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon three months later. Nebuchadnezzar then appointed Zedekiah as his ruler in Judah. Eighteen years passed between the events of chapter 36 and those of chapter 37.
Verse 1 – Then King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.
Verse 2 – But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the Lord which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.
Verse 3 – And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Pray now to the Lord our God for us.”
King Zedekiah and his officials didn’t want to listen to what Jeremiah had to say, but only wanted the blessing they thought they could receive if Jeremiah prayed for them.
We would not accept a relationship with someone who only came to us to see what they could get, so why would we ever expect God to be pleased if the only time we went to Him was when we wanted something from Him?
Verse 4 – Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison.
Verse 5 – Then Pharaoh’s army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in 589 B.C., Pharaoh Hophra marched against him at Zedekiah’s invitation. But the Egyptians were no help, for as soon as the Babylonians turned on them, they retreated.
Verse 6 – And the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
Verse 7 – “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me: “Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land.
Verse 8 – “And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.” ‘
Verse 9 – “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely depart from us,” for they will not depart.
Verse 10 – ‘For though you have defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.’ ”
Jeremiah’s answer for Zedekiah’s prayer request was that the Egyptians would return to Egypt and the Babylonians would burn Jerusalem.
Verse 11 – And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army,
Verse 12 – that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people.
Verse 13 – And when he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”
Jeremiah had tried to convince the people to surrender to the Babylonians and save their lives, so when this captain saw Jeremiah leaving, he assumed he was defecting.
Verse 14 – Then Jeremiah said, “It is false! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him. So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes.
Verse 15 – Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.
Verse 16 – When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,
Verse 17 – then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” and Jeremiah said, “There is,” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!”
Verse 18 – Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison?
Verse 19 – “Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land?’
Verse 20 – “Therefore please hear now, O my lord the king. Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.”
Verse 21 – Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Jeremiah had pleaded with the king not to return him to the dungeon and the king obliged. The prison court was open and the prisoners could have visitors. God had told Jeremiah he would not die by their hands and that He would protect him, and He did.
Sometimes it doesn’t look like God is keeping His promise to us, but our perspective when storms come is not always clear. If God has told you something, He will bring it to pass no matter what it looks like, “Today!”