After King Josiah was killed in battle, Egypt made Judah a vassal kingdom and imposed a tribute on the land. Jehoahaz, who did evil in the sight of the Lord, only reigns for three months in Judah before the king of Egypt, Necho, takes him off to captivity in Egypt. Necho then places Jehoahaz’ brother Eliakim on the throne and changes his name to Jehoiakim.
Jehoiakim taxes the people to pay Egypt the silver and gold demanded by Necho. Jehoiakim is also a wicked king, so the Lord sends Jeremiah with messages for both Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, the sons of Josiah. Jeremiah tells them that the palace will be destroyed and Jehoahaz shall die in Egypt where Necho took him captive. The Lord says about Jehoiakim – “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.” Therefore, Jehoiakim shall have a disgraceful burial and be, “Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
Then Jeremiah, standing outside the temple, warns the people to turn from their evil ways and heed the words of the Lord or He, “Will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” However, this message from the Lord is not what the people want to hear, so they threaten Jeremiah saying, “You will surely die!” But Jeremiah does not back down. He says, “do with me as seems good and proper to you. But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
Others come to the defense of Jeremiah. They say to remember when the prophet Micah also spoke against Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah and no one killed him. In fact, it led the people to repentance. So Jeremiah escapes death with the intervention of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan who was Josiah’s scribe during the religious reform.
“In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him raiding bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon.”
Jeremiah says since the people would never listen to the Lord, He is going to send them off to captivity, “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
Tomorrow Jeremiah continues to speak of the Lord’s judgment upon Judah; and in two days reading, the first wave will be taken into captivity. So keep reading. (2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 2 Kings 23:31-37, 2 Chronicles 36:5, Jeremiah 22:1-23, Jeremiah 26:1-24, 2 Kings 24:1-4, Jeremiah 25:1-14)