Text: Jeremiah 52
If I were to give today’s Bible study a title, it would be, “The End of the Matter.”
The purpose of this chapter is to show you that all the words the LORD spoke through Jeremiah came to pass. In the same way, all the words spoken by Jesus Christ’s Spirit-filled bondservants will come to pass, for He speaks through them.
The end of the matter is this, O sinning church filled with infants in Christ (1Corinthians 3:1) — the Lord will continue to send His bondservants to exhort and warn you. And most of you will not listen to or heed such warnings. But He will do just as He has said, through us.
Your sin has caused a separation between you and your God. Unless you repent from the heart and obey His commandments regarding the Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), you will remain exiled from His presence.
And unless you repent and obey Him, you will not enter the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived! No sinner — whether an unbeliever or an infant in Christ — will enter the kingdom of God (1Corinthians 6:9).
Jeremiah wrote a lamentation after the LORD judged Judah. And I lament for what is called “the church,” for I tell you the truth, Jesus Christ does not recognize you as His church. Therefore, repent!
Verses 1-2 —
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2 He did evil in the sight of the LORD like all that Jehoiakim had done.
King Zedekiah of Judah was 33 years old when he was taken into exile. Neither he nor his leaders nor the priests nor the false prophets nor the people of Judah heeded the LORD’s warnings.
Zedekiah did evil in the sight of the LORD, doing just as Jehoiakim had done. You will remember that Jehoiakim burned up the scroll that contained all the exhortations and warnings which the LORD had spoken through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:23).
Zedekiah discounted and dismissed the words of the LORD, and worshiped the false gods that his false prophets urged him to worship. He listened to and loved the false prophets’ lies, and hated and did not listen to the truth of the words of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah. I will speak of his rebellion in Verse 3.
Here is his sad history —
2Chronicles 36:11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.
Verse 3 —
For through the anger (wrath) of the LORD this came about in Jerusalem and Judah until He cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
Just as Jeremiah had warned, the LORD released His wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem. He used King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, His servant, to execute His judgment upon them — exile if they surrendered to Babylon, or death if they did not.
Why did He cast them out of His presence? Because they refused to obey Him and abandoned Him, their Husband, to worship false gods who are nothingness and emptiness.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon by trying to escape so he would not be killed by the Babylonian army or exiled in Babylon. But the LORD had commanded all of Judah to surrender and live (27:12, 17). So, if he did not surrender, he would die!
And the LORD had warned Zedekiah that he would not escape from King Nebuchadnezzar (38:23). Yet his heart was hard, and he did not listen to the LORD’s warnings through Jeremiah.
Verse 4-5 —
Now it came about in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it. 5 So the city was under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
Because Zedekiah refused to obey the LORD, King Nebuchadnezzar did just as Jeremiah had prophesied. Jerusalem was besieged by Babylon. Famine and the resulting diseases killed many in Jerusalem.
Verse 6-7 —
On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. 7 Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war fled and went forth from the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls which was by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah.
After severe famine had set in, the city was broken into. All the remnant of Judah’s army, as well as King Zedekiah, fled from Jerusalem by night, through the gate by the king’s garden, even though the Babylonians had surrounded the city.
As I noted in Verse 3, they tried to escape by going out into the Arabah, a desert land. But again, the LORD had said neither he nor his army would successfully escape His judgment which He executed through the king of Babylon.
Verses 8-11 —
But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him. 9 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. 10 The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and he also slaughtered all the princes of Judah in Riblah. 11 Then he blinded the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon and put him in prison until the day of his death.
Just as the LORD had said through Jeremiah, the Babylonian army pursued Zedekiah and captured him, and his army was scattered away from him. They brought him before King Nebuchadnezzar, who passed sentence on him, slaughtered his sons before his eyes, as well as all his leaders, and then blinded Zedekiah.
How ironic! Zedekiah chose to stubbornly blind himself to the true words of the LORD, so his natural eyes were gouged out. That is an example of the LORD’s righteous judgment.
Verses 12-14 —
Jeremiah 52:12 Now on the tenth day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who was in the service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 13 He burned the house of the LORD, the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every large house he burned with fire. 14 So all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.
This is the record of the destruction of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan burned the temple of the LORD to the ground, after having removed all of its treasures, as you will see in Verses 17-23. Judah’s false prophets had told the people and the kings of Judah that Jerusalem would always stand, for the temple of the LORD was there.
But the LORD was not in the temple. He had left a long time ago, because of their rebellion against Him —
First, He went to the threshold —
Ezekiel 10:3 Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.
Ezekiel 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over thecherubim. 19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from theearth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’S house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.
Ezekiel 11:23 The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.
Why did the LORD leave? They slaughtered their children to please their false gods (Ezekiel 23:39), a thing that never was in the LORD’s heart (Jeremiah 7:31).
He could not remain with them because of their many abominations — disgusting and entirely wicked in the LORD’s eyes — which they performed for their detestable false gods!
Verses 15-16 —
Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away into exile some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who were left in the city, the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the rest of the artisans. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
As is recorded in Jeremiah 39:10, Babylon gave land to the poorest Jews, and they tended them. But the rest of the people either died or were carried into exile, including the artisans whose skills would be useful to the Babylonians. And the deserters, like King Zedekiah, were carried into exile.
Verses 17-18 —
Now the bronze pillars which belonged to the house of the LORD and the stands and the bronze sea, which were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried all their bronze to Babylon. 18 They also took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the basins, the pans and all the bronze vessels which were used in temple service.
The bronze pillars, which had been on the porch of Solomon’s temple that he had built for the LORD, were broken into pieces by the Babylonians, so they could carry them away as booty. They did the same with the stands and the huge bronze sea at which the priests outwardly cleansed themselves before entering the temple. They also carried away the rest of the implements of worship.
All evidence regarding the worship of the LORD was entirely removed or burned down. Why? Judah had left Him and had no longer worshiped Him. Instead, they trusted in, relied upon and loved their false gods. Therefore, it was His righteous judgment to completely destroy all evidence of worship of Him.
Verses 19-20 —
The captain of the guard also took away the bowls, the firepans, the basins, the pots, the lampstands, the pans and the drink offering bowls, what was fine gold and what was fine silver. 20 The two pillars, the one sea, and the twelve bronze bulls that were under the sea, and the stands, which King Solomon had made for the house of the LORD — the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight.
The looting of the temple included implements of fine gold and silver. The weight of the bronze sea and stand could not be measured. Babylon carried off everything of value — great value, indeed — from the temple complex, before burning it down.
All of the temple’s riches that Judah had trusted in, relied upon and loved were taken, for they did not trust in, rely upon, or love the LORD. They loved the LORD’s things, but not Him, or they never would have gone after false gods and committed abominations with them.
Verses 21-23 —
As for the pillars, the height of each pillar was eighteen cubits, and it was twelve cubits in circumference and four fingers in thickness, and hollow. 22 Now a capital of bronze was on it; and the height of each capital was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the capital all around, all of bronze. And the second pillar was like these, including pomegranates. 23 There were ninety-six exposed pomegranates; all the pomegranates numbered a hundred on the network all around.
The degree of ornate design was astounding! Huge pillars, topped by decorative capitals. It was fine workmanship, indeed. But they had forgotten that they were the LORD’s workmanship. They had disregarded their Maker.
Verses 24-25 —
Then the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest, with the three officers of the temple. 25 He also took from the city one official who was overseer of the men of war, and seven of the king’s advisers who were found in the city, and the scribe of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the midst of the city.
Then the priests of the temple were taken, as well as the overseer of the army of Judah — the secretary of defense, you might say — were taken. The king’s advisers were taken, the scribe of the commander of the army, and sixty men among the people of the land were taken. Where were they taken? To a place of judgment and death, as you will see in the next two verses!
Verses 26-27 —
Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 Then the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was led away into exile from its land.
These were brought to the same place as King Zedekiah and those who tried to escape — to be judged by the king of Babylon, who was at Riblah until Jerusalem was completely destroyed. He killed all of them at Riblah. And the rest of Judah was led into exile from the land that the LORD had given them.
Verses 28-30 —
These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away into exile: in the seventh year 3,023 Jews; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar 832 persons from Jerusalem; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile 745 Jewish people; there were 4,600 persons in all.
Many were killed or died of famine and its resulting diseases prior to the three exiles. In those three exiles, a total of 4,600 persons were taken to Babylon from Jerusalem, the last stronghold of Judah.
Feinberg notes that based on evidence from archeological digs, the population of Judah prior to the Babylonian invasion is estimated to have been more than 75,000. But in the days of King David and King Solomon, Israel and Judah were one nation, and were as numerous as the dust of the earth (2Chronicles 1:9)!
Verses 31-32 —
Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, showed favor to Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 Then he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon.
King Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he was appointed king, but reigned only three months before he surrendered to the king of Babylon. He was imprisoned for 37 years, and surely his health declined greatly over such a long imprisonment because of the cruelty of the guards and the extremely poor conditions in the prison.
But Evil-merodach, the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, took pity on him, brought him out of prison, and gave him a higher position than all of the kings of the other lands that Babylon had overrun and captured.
Verses 33-34 —
So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life. 34 For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king of Babylon, a daily portion all the days of his life until the day of his death.
Jehoachin was given fine clothing, and ate before the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. The king also gave him a daily portion (money) all the days of his life, until he died.
But he died in exile, far from the LORD! So he was yet wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, just like those in the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:17). And he will face the Judge, Jesus Christ, in the final day, and be sentenced to eternal perishing in hell. Why? There is no evidence that he ever repented and returned to the LORD.
The title of this Bible study is, “They Did Not Listen.” And now, I ask you, are you listening? Will you receive or reject the words the Lord has given me to speak? Will you repent, or is your heart hardened, like the hearts of those in Judah?
Many of you are still infants who not obeyed His commandments regarding the Spirit. Because of your sin-sick heart and your disobedience to His commands, you are exiled from His presence. That is His judgment on you now. How do I know? I used to be like you.
O beloved! Repent and obey Him, or He will further judge you, in the day of judgment. Why? If you do not repent and obey Him, you reveal that you have not listened to His Spirit-filled bondservants. Instead, like Judah, you have chosen to listen to false ones who teach another Jesus.
I have taught this Bible study at the Lord’s command. I confess that there were times when I wanted to stop because I saw so clearly the state of today’s church, for it is the same as Judah in Jeremiah’s day. It grieved me greatly, even to the point where I felt I did not have the strength to continue!
But I prayed for Him to forgive me for faltering, and continued, for I know His purpose for this teaching is that you see your spiritual condition and repent and obey His commandments regarding the Spirit. Do so, and live!
Let it be so, Lord Jesus! Amen.