Jeremiah 24-25
(King of Kings)
August 11th


Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: ďTake from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.Ē

- Jeremiah 25:15-16 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 24-25 close out the third section and the first half of the book of Jeremiah. In some respects, the two chapters can be considered a summary of the book up to this point.

Chapter 24 is a very brief chapter which records an event in which the LORD spoke to Jeremiah using an analogy of two baskets of fruit to explain the future of the people of Judah. The story is interrupted to provide the context of time, noting that the event was after King Jehoiachin was carried into exile by the Babylonians along with a sizable amount of treasure, sacred objects, and other citizens of Judah who would serve their occupiers. One of the baskets contained good figs, which represented the good people in exile who would be brought back to their own land.

    Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

    - Jeremiah 24:5-7(NRSV)

The other basket held bad figs that were inedible. These inedible ones represented King Zedekiah, who had replaced Johoiachin and his officials. They would eventually be banished, ridiculed, and destroyed. "And Iíll make sure they die like fliesófrom war, starvation, disease, whateveróuntil the land I once gave to them and their ancestors is completely rid of them (Jer 24:10 - MSG)."

Chapter 25 reviews Jeremiahís story to date, Jeremiah explains that he had been prophesying for 23 years, since the thirteenth year of King Josiah, but no one listened. The LORD had sent additional prophets, but no one listened to them either. Jeremiah told the people that the LORD had reminded them that he commanded them to follow him and not false gods, but they rebelled. Therefore, explained Jeremiah, the LORD would intervene to have Babylon destroy the land. However, the people who had remained with Zedekiah and survived the final attack would serve Babylon for 70 years. At the end of that time, Babylon itself will be punished. The LORD uses an analogy of a cup filled with a drink that the guilty must swallow.

Chapter 25 and the first half of the book end in a thunderous roar as the LORD orders Jeremiah to tell the people about the mighty disaster about to take place. He tells the leaders of Judah to weep and wail in advance of their slaughter: "Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel (Jer 25:34 - KJV)."

Reflection and Application

These two chapters clearly depict God as the King of Kings. He can raise up kings and he can destroy them. He can send one king to defeat another. He can cut off the genealogical tree or he can keep a branch going for future use. All earthly kings are subservient to him.

Itís hard to keep track of some of these kings because their names look so similar and for added measure are hard to spell! Some of them have different spellings in our English translations, and in some cases different names were used. Here is a summary reference to help us follow the stories of this last group of kings, all of whom were contemporaries of Jeremiah(1)(2)):

    Josiah: Became king circa 640 B.C.; Jeremiah was called to be a prophet during his reign; Josiah led a religious reform, died in a battle against Egypt that was ill-advised

    Jehoahaz: Third son of Josiah, replaced Josiah as king circa 609 B.C., lasted about 3 months until the Egyptians deposed him and deported him to Egypt - in some verses Jeremiah refers to him derisively by his childhood name, Shallum (e.g. see Jeremiah 22:10-12).

    Jehoiakim: Second son of Josiah, inserted by the Egyptians as the replacement for Jehoahaz circa 609 B.C, reigned 11 years - he and his officials frequently clashed with Jeremiah, rarely heeded his advice, and ordered Jeremiah to be imprisoned, as noted in chapters 23 and 36

    Jehoaichin: Son of Jehoiakim, replaced Jehoiakim about 598 B.C., only lasted about 3 months in Judah, he surrendered to the Babylonians who were preparing to lay siege to Jerusalem; he was then taken into exile - sometimes referenced by Jeremiah using his childhood name, Coniah (e.g. see Jeremiah 22:24: "As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence" - KJV), and in other cases was called Jeconiah

    Zedekiah: Either the fourth son of Josiah, or another son of Jehoiakim (there is no consensus among Biblical experts), was placed on the throne by the Babylonians to replace Jehoaichin in 597 B.C. and reigned for about 11 years, during which Judah's power steadily declined; he sometimes listened to Jeremiah's advice, but eventually went his own way ignoring the prophet and breaching his treaty with the Babylonians, an act which led to a one and a half year siege and the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

Jehoiachin was not highly regarded by Jeremiah, only briefly served as king, never returned to Judah, but he is mentioned in the first chapter of the New Testament, in the genealogy of Joseph:

    After the exile to Babylon:
    Jeconiah (aka Jehoaichin) was the father of Shealtiel,
    Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
    Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
    Abihud the father of Eliakim,
    Eliakim the father of Azor,
    Azor the father of Zadok,
    Zadok the father of Akim,
    Akim the father of Elihud,
    Elihud the father of Eleazar,
    Eleazar the father of Matthan,
    Matthan the father of Jacob,
    and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

    - Matthew 1:12-16 (NIV)

God did have a plan for these people. He can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in ways that we cannot even imagine.

Josiah, the grandfather of Jehoiachin was also mentioned in the genealogy. But he was a righteous man, and is honored today when people choose his name for their children. We must make sure that what we have done right is passed on to the next generation, and that they can bring their spiritual standards to a higher level, not a lower one. Itís not always easy, but itís our calling, for those of us who are parents. This is one way to be remembered.

Remember Jeremiah the next time you find yourself standing in front of a bunch of figs. Jeremiah was looking at two ordinary baskets of figs when he suddenly felt the presence of the LORD, who used that scene as a teaching point. Let us use this story as a reminder that we never know when God might reach out to us and use our situation as a classroom lesson. He may nudge us when we are in the produce section of the store. He might decide to whisper to us when we are doing our chores or taking care of business, or maybe shout at us when we are walking down the street. God does not have to wait for us to be in prayer in order to talk to us and may use different means to communicate to us. Let us be attuned to the possibility of his presence at all times and have our pencils sharpened to take notes.

Another way that God communicates to us is through other people. When the LORD sends true prophets, we need to stop and listen. How will we know? We can measure their words against the Bible and allow our hearts to guide us. By contrast, following false gods is a path to emptiness. If we go down that path then we have to find our way back in order to establish a solid relationship with God. The empty path and false idols in our 21st century lives may be more subtle than we imagine. We might want to ask God to help us assess ourselves and put our spiritual priorities in the right order so that we can build a solid relationship with the one true God, otherwise, we might be drinking the cup of his wrath.

You definitely donít want to find yourself on the team of Godís opponent. The people of Judah during the time of Jeremiah were not the first to feel his wrath, as we have seen in earlier books. Nor will they be the last. God has drafted all of us to be on his team. We need to show up for training and follow his game plan. Then he will protect us like a piece of fine china, while the guys on the other team are shattered.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection


Related Questions
  1. What is your favorite way to eat a fig? In a Fig Newton or in a homemade stuffed fig with peanut butter and sugar, or something else?
  2. What ordinary events in your life this week might be used as an analogy for Godís plans?
  3. What is the next step in Godís training plan for you?
Recommended Prayer
Father in heaven, we know you can intervene in our world in a multitude of ways. Help us to believe that you are always with us and help us to listen for your voice.

Suggested Prayer Concerns
Grocers

Footnotes

(1) Boadt, Lawrence, Jeremiah 1-25, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1982, p168, 171
(2) Heschel, Abraham Joshua, The Prophets, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2001, New York (originally published by Harper & Row in 1962), p167-171

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 26-29 (Plans to Prosper)

Comments and Questions
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