Nebuchadnezzar releases Jeremiah, the man of God who has been telling the people to surrender to the Babylonians, from prison and gives him a choice of staying in Judah or going with him to Babylon. Jeremiah chooses to stay back with the few people who are left in the land. So we see God’s protection over Jeremiah who has faith in the Lord and obeys His Word (I bet Zedekiah wished he had done the same).
Remember Edeb-Melech, the Ethiopian who pulled Jeremiah out of the dungeon? Well the Lord tells Jeremiah to tell Edeb-Melech, “you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me”. Again we see that the Lord saves the ones who put their trust in Him!
Nebuchadnezzar makes Gedaliah the governor of Judah. He is the son of Ahikam (who saved Jeremiah’s life in our August 4th reading) and grandson of Shaphan (the scribe who found the book of the law during Josiah’s reign in our July 31 reading). The Babylonians burn the house of the Lord and all the great houses, and break down the walls of Jerusalem. They break into pieces the bronze pillars, the carts, and the bronze Sea that was in the temple and take away the pots, shovels, spoons, bronze utensils; “the things of solid gold and solid silver, the captain of the guard took away.” “And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
So the land will lay desolate for 70 years, counting from the first wave of captivity when Daniel was taken in 605 BC until King Cyrus of Persia will make a decree sending the people of Judah back to rebuild in 537 BC. (From my research, it appears that the 2 year difference is explained through the Israelites calendar system.)
We end today’s reading by beginning the Book of Lamentations with mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem. More from Lamentations tomorrow so keep reading.
(Jeremiah 39:11-18, Jeremiah 40:1-6, 2 Kings 25:8-21, Jeremiah 52:12-27, 2 Chronicles 36:15-21, Lamentations 1:1-22)