Jeremiah 37-44

Jeremiah 37 describes the vain efforts of Zedekiah and his nobles to escape from the Chaldean. This description is continued in Jeremiah 38, where we also read of Jeremiah sunk into a dungeon, and only through Zedekiah's kindness was he kept from death. But in that wicked house there was one that feared the Lord, and he was Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian, who showed compassion for the prophet in the dungeon and did much for his rescue.

Jeremiah 39 shows us the capture of Jerusalem and the flight of Zedekiah. The king, however, was caught, and (what he dreaded most of all) was brought before the Chaldean conqueror. He was carried ignominiously to Babylon, his eyes put out and himself bound in chains. Jeremiah contrariwise was cared for by the king of Babylon. And Ebed-melech was not forgotten.

In Jeremiah 40 to Jeremiah 44, we have the anarchy and moral disorder that prevailed among the Jews who were left behind in the land or its vicinity when the mass of their brethren had been carried captive to Babylon. Jeremiah becomes their helper, ministering to them the word of Jehovah, but finds among them the greatest unbelief. This obduracy of heart was most sorrowful and heart-breaking to the prophet. Their unbelief in Jehovah previously had brought the crisis of destruction upon Jerusalem. But now even the little remnant, the poor left in the land among whom Jeremiah remained, were full of jealousy, full of their own plans, full of treason, full of deceit and violence. God was not really in their thoughts.

All these things fill the prophet's heart with sorrow. To escape the wrath of the king of Babylon many flee into Egypt where they practise its idolatries. The doings of their various leaders are recounted, Gedaliah and Ishmael, and then Johanan, one only of them having the least care for the people of God, the others served themselves.

The prophet announced what would fall upon the Jews who tried to escape by going down into Egypt. He showed them that there they would only incur trouble from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar still more. Had they remained quietly in the land subject to the authority of the Chaldean king whom God had placed over them, they would have been preserved. But they, choosing human policy, thought it was safer to go down into Egypt, whereas it proved to be the contrary. Nebuchadnezzar pursued the Egyptians and punished these unbelieving Jews in that land.