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Lowell Brueckner

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The House of the Kings of Judah



Chapter 22

Shallum or Jehoahaz

      1.   Thus says the LORD: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, 

      2.     and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates!    

      3.   Thus says the LORD: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. 

 4.      For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. 

 5.       But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the LORD, “that this house shall become a desolation.” ‘ “ 

 6.        For thus says the LORD to the house of the king of Judah: “You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon; Yet I surely will make you a wilderness, Cities which are not inhabited. 

 7.      I will prepare destroyers against you, Everyone with his weapons; They shall cut down your choice cedars And cast them into the fire. 

 8.      And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, ‘Why has the LORD done so to this great city?’ 

 9.      Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.’ “ 

 10.  Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him; Weep bitterly for him who goes away, For he shall return no more, Nor see his native country. 

 11.  For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: “He shall not return here anymore, 

 12.  but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more. 

 The Lord’s repetitious warnings in Jeremiah’s book are only indications of His deep care for His people. We have the book of Deuteronomy, the title meaning Yhe Second Giving of the Law. We have two almost identical Psalms, chapter 14 and 53, warning us of the foolishness of atheism. We have four gospels, telling us of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, by different witnesses with different perspectives.

 John writes in his epistle: “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning” (1 Jn.2:7). Peter wrote: “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know…” (2 P.1;12). In verse 9, he referred to a believer forgetting that he was washed from his sins.

 It is obvious the God knows that His people need repetition and reminders, especially concerning the things in life, which are most important… the words and principles of our Creator. We must never let our mind loosen its grip on His righteousness and holiness. These are attributes of the divine nature and He can never be anything else, but righteous and holy.

 Paul teaches that the cross demonstrates His righteousness: “Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation (as total satisfaction for His righteous wrath) by His blood, through faith… to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier…” (Ro.3:24, 25, 26). His holy nature cannot tolerate sin and His righteousness demands that sin be punished. Therefore, we have Jeremiah’s repeated warnings of the consequences of Judah’s sin, which must surely take place.

 This chapter precedes the last one chronologically and they both have to do with “the house of David”, the royalty of Judah. This word from God is for the kings from the offspring of David, who must consider the importance that his throne holds before the God of Israel. It is also for their court, their advisors and other palace officials who, along with them, are responsible for the direction that his government takes (2).

 Israel’s leaders are not free to follow their own politics and agenda, as the heads of other nations might do, but are under the rule of the King of kings. He demands good judgment, righteousness, and freedom from oppression for His people. The moral strength of s government is seen in its treatment of its weakest people. I went to a senior citizen’s home in Eastern Germany, shortly after the Berlin Wall fell. There I learned of the neglect under the Communist dictatorship and how things had improved under Western management. Evil leadership only focuses on the usefulness of the citizenry, but God’s true people will tend to the well-being and comfort of the less fortunate, such as the refugee, the orphans, and the widows. Since the time of Cain and Abel, He is looking in indignation on those, who shed innocent blood. How these issues are handled, will determine the Lord’s approval or disapproval of Judah (3).

 In chapter 17:25, we have already seen the benefits of righteous leadership, which are identical with verse four here. God lays the advantages before us, when He finds pleasure in His people, as well as the consequences, when He is displeased. The long line of the House of David could prosper under His smile, pompously entering their palace in chariots, accompanied by great numbers of attendants and a large populace (4).

 Human records may choose to ignore the fall and degradation of the mighty, but God does not. In biblical terms, hearing is equal to obedience. Those who properly hear God’s word, will respond in obedience, and when they do not, the Lord swears with an oath to obliterate them. Desolation is the alternative to obedience. His righteousness gives no escape to the disobedient, which is a fact that no one should ignore. There are loopholes in the kingdom of men and clever people learn to find them, but absolutely none will appear from God’s judgment seat (5).

 God’s purpose and favor upon David’s house is as the fertile hills of Gilead, which the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Mannaseh found so attractive for their herds and flocks. Just to the north of Israel were the green forests of Lebanon and the Lord refers to these two places to illustrate the beauty of His favor. Even so, He assures them, disobedience will result in total desolation (6).

 See God’s involvement in their destruction, not only finding destroyers, but actually preparing them against Judah, arming them in order to cut Judah down like cedars and burn them (7). We are learning an answer that God gives more than once in this book, concerning righteousness and holiness, which we refer to in the third and fourth paragraph of this exposition. When the question arises about His punishment upon Jerusalem (8), the neighboring nations have learned that it is, “because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them” (9). Let us not be so foolish, as to miss the fact of divine retribution. His holiness demands righteous punishment upon those who sinfully turn their backs on Him and give themselves to idolatry.

 Idolatry was prominent in Israel and continues to be a sin in the 21st Century. There are still those who bow down to images and statues, deceitfully convincing themselves that they are praying to saints. They subtract from the role of Jesus Christ as the sole Intermediary between God and man, when they pray to others, regardless of whom they wish them to be. How do they miss the clear doctrine of Paul to his disciple, Timothy? “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 T.2:5). Then, they try to involve another person or religion in man’s redemption. This is blatant robbery of Christ’s sufficiency.

 There are other forms of idolatry in 21st Century religion. Anything and anyone, who challenges the priority of the Lord in our lives, is an idol. Jesus made it clear: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me…son or daughter…” etc. (Mt.10:37). Still another subtle form of idolatry comes from a misconception of the true and living God through extrabiblical sources. Foreign gods can come to people in dreams, visions or other revelations. Misconceptions can be cultivated in the mind through the imagination or convenience in an attempt to find a god, who is compatible to our lifestyles or desires. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through Scripture and it is dangerous to stray from His written word. All idolatry begins in the mind and afterwards is constructed physically.

 We go on now to verse 10 and learn that there are fates that are worse than death. Israel and Jeremiah, himself, mourned for King Josiah and the lamentations continued well after his demise (2 Chron.35:25), but Josiah went to a happy place, while his fourth son, Shallim or Jehoahaz (1 Chr.3:15), who reigned for only three months, was deposed, imprisoned and taken away to Egypt, where he died (10-12). His suffering far exceeded that of physical death and it will be the sad situation of many Israelites, who are expatriated. They will emaciate in a foreign land, never again to return to their homes, without a friendly face or a helping hand.

 I remember that Jesus, on his way to Calvary, said to the women, who stood by and mourned for Him: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk.23:28). True, He was going to the cross to endure unimaginable suffering, but there, He would gain a mighty victory over death and hell. His resurrection and unending future would bring blessing upon multitudes. Days were coming in Jerusalem, only 37 years after His declaration, when women would regret ever having given birth, because they would helplessly watch their children suffer severe hunger. Their own breasts would dry and be unable to nurse their babies. Men would desire for hills and mountains to fall on them to end their lives. Yes, there are fates that are worse than death!



 13.  "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor's service without wages And gives him nothing for his work, 

 14.  Who says, 'I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, And cut out windows for it, Paneling it with cedar And painting it with vermilion.'

 15.  "Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, And do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 

 16.  He judged the cause of the poor and needy; Then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?" says the LORD. 

 17.  "Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence." 

 18.  Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "They shall not lament for him, Saying, 'Alas, my brother!' or 'Alas, my sister!' They shall not lament for him, Saying, 'Alas, master!' or 'Alas, his glory!' 

 19.  He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. 

 The second son of Josiah enters the prophecy of Jeremiah, Eliakim named Jehoiakim by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt who, having removed Jehoahaz, placed his brother on the throne. He reigned eleven years. The historical accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles simply state that he did evil, but it is the role of a prophet to reveal the evil inside the man. So, Jeremiah gives more detail, in describing the evil. In chapter 26:23, we learn that this king killed the prophet, Urijah. Jehoiakim also cut and burned the scroll, piece by piece, that the Lord instructed Jeremiah to write (Jer.36:20-24).

 In the historical accounts we learn that, before Pharaoh Necho made Jehoiakim king, he put a tribute of silver and gold on Judah. Jehoiakim paid the tribute by taking it from his subjects, the populace of Judah (2 K.23:33-35). While charging his people with the heavy tax of Pharaoh, he built a luxurious house for himself (13). He paneled it with cedar and painted it with vermilion (14).

 The Lord declared to him the vanity of building this house, while he ruled in unrighteousness, yet valued material things. He then reminded him of this father, Josiah, and how well it went for him, because he did not build his kingdom with earthly wealth, but on the spiritual structure of justice and righteousness (15). While Jehoiakim robbed the people, Josiah respected the cause of the poor and needy. His deeds reflected his personal knowledge of God, something which his son lacked (16).

 In this father and son, we see the contrast between those who know God and those, who do not, although they belong to the same family. It is also the difference between a born-again Christian and the one, who lives according to the Adamic nature. The new nature in Christ lives for the glory of God. The child of fallen Adam is always looking for something for himself. He is egotistical or, according to verse 17, he is covetous. The prophet sees what external history cannot see: He gets inside the man and reveals his heart. Jehoiakim is by nature oppressive and violent and, given the right circumstances, will kill the innocent, if it is profitable for him. His grandfather, Mannaseh “filled Jerusalem with innocent blood” (2 K.24:4).    

 Remember that the book is not in chronological order and therefore it is recorded in chapter 36:30, where God had earlier sent a word by Jeremiah to this king: “His dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.” In 2 Chronicles 36:6 it states that Nebuchadnezzar “bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon”. He never arrived; Jeremiah reveals that the Babylonian emperor, for some reason, changed his mind and Jehoiakim was “dragged and cast out of the gates of Jerusalem” like a donkey (19). It is easy to imagine that this king, who laid on his people the Egyptian tax, while he built his own palace, was not popular in Jerusalem. Contrary to the great lamentation for his father, no one lamented Jehoiakim’s death (18).



 20.  "Go up to Lebanon, and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry from Abarim, For all your lovers are destroyed. 

 21.  I spoke to you in your prosperity, But you said, 'I will not hear.' This has been your manner from your youth, That you did not obey My voice. 

 22.  The wind shall eat up all your rulers, And your lovers shall go into captivity; Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated For all your wickedness. 

 23.  O inhabitant of Lebanon, Making your nest in the cedars, How gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, Like the pain of a woman in labor? 

 24.  "As I live," says the LORD, "though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; 

 25.  and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. 

 26.  So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. 

 27.  But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. 

 28.  "Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol—A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? 

 29.  O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! 

 30.  Thus says the LORD: 'Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.' " 

 Jerusalem is personified in verse 20 and God speaks to her, as to a woman. From three mountain, Lebanon, Bashan, and Abarim, Jerusalem is calling particularly to Assyria and Egypt. Their call goes unheeded, for those two nations are already under Babylonian control.  The Lord, on His part, had called to the people in the good times, but they refused to hear, and now, their “lovers” do not hear them. They had been disobedient from the beginning, with rare intervals of positive response under good leadership (21). In verse 22, Rulers should be translated pastors, coming from the same Hebrew word as eat up. We could probably read the pastors will become pasture… that is the meaning of this clause… consumed by Babylon As already mentioned, the lovers are principally Egypt and Assyria, now under Babylon’s rule.

 In verse 23, we have one of the times that Jerusalem is called Lebanon, due to the heavy contribution of cedar wood in their important buildings, supplied by Lebanon. How gracious you will be”, God states with strong irony… as if to say, “You’ll be beautiful with all your cedar, when suffering comes on you.”  

 It might also be a bit of irony, when God calls Jeconiah, Coniah (he is the same as Jehoiachin).  The Lord speaks to him in contempt, omitting the “Je” at the beginning of his name, that prefix referring to Jehovah. He is unworthy of the name, because, we might say, he is a godless man. Ring seals were the signature of a king. In the book of Esther, King Ahasuerus gave his signet ring to his high official, Haman (Es.3:10), but when Esther uncovered his evil heart, he was hung on his own gallows, on which he intended to hang his enemy, Mordecai, the Jew. So the “Je” of Jeconiah’s name was removed, cutting off all his association with Jehovah (24).  

 Jehoiachin or Coniah, as the Lord called him, reigned for only three months and then, along with his mother, Nehushta, surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar (25). They, his wives, his officials and other nobles of the land, were carried to Babylon. There he died (26), but if you will allow me a positive note to this dark story, I will quote from the last verses of 2 Kings: “Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat that those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life” (2 K.25:27-29).

 In this way, the books of the Kings, telling the moral decline of the kings of Israel, then of Judah, ends on this note. I find throughout the Bible that God endeavors to give the reader hope, if he will put himself in His hands. The word of Jeconiah’s fate was literally fulfilled, yet the Lord remembers mercy in judgment and, the apostle James comforts us with these words: “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful (Jam.5:11).

 This is not to take anything away from God’s judgment, in which Judah is instructed to weep, because these kings would be taken into captivity, with many of their citizenry. Near the beginning of the chapter and again towards the end, it declares that they would never return to their native land (27). Jeremiah’s word was directed to the house of the king of Judah. Coniah, who sat for only three months on the throne of David, the last hope for his line of kings, is broken and cut off from God (28).

 We are touching something of supreme importance, as we pore over this prophecy. The word of the Triune God demands, with three-fold emphasis, the attention of the whole earth: “Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!” It loses none of its effect in the 21st Century; today we are to learn the lesson of Coniah (29), and along with it, the failure of all mankind! It is vital for us that we respond to the Living Word. This man’s life was ruined, he died childless, he was fruitless. Not only Coniah, but no mere man ever again will sit on the throne of David… “until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed His garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk” (Ge.49:10-11).

 After all the disobedience and failure of the kings of Judah and the Jewish people, extending into the New Testament, Jesus wept as he overlooked the city (Lk.19:41). He rode on the donkey’s colt into Jerusalem, but those who lauded Him, one week later rejected and crucified Him… His own received Him not (Jn.1:12).

 He returns, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and to Him will belong the scepter, reigning over an obedient Israel. He will establish Himself in a millennial reign of plenty and prosperity, bathed in milk and wine. He is the One on the mount of transfiguration, whose face glowed like the sun in divine brightness, whose raiment glowed white, beyond what a launderer could bleach them (Mk.9:3). His eyes are darker than wine, His teeth whiter than milk, and He is exalted above all blessing and praise! (Neh.9:5)  




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