As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus
- Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
30 October Jer 37:11-21
Jeremiah is accused of treason by attempting to desert to the Babylonians. Although the charge was false, it was given weight by Jeremiah’s preaching of surrender as the only way of survival (21:9). Yet Jeremiah’s calling was to point others to safety while refusing it for himself (compare Mt 27:42). Flogging and imprisonment brought Jeremiah near to death (v.20), but his prophetic voice was unwavering (vv.17,19). The king still would not hear, but he did ease Jeremiah’s prison conditions (v.21).
31 October Jer 38:1-13
The weak king Zedekiah is swayed first one way, then the other. Some of his officials persuaded him to have Jeremiah killed by allowing him to drown in a muddy cistern (vv.1-6). Then Ebed-Melek, a foreigner in the king’s service, convinced him that Jeremiah should be rescued (vv.7-10). God is still watching over His prophet and His word (compare 1:12).
1 November Jer 38:14-28
The final encounter between the king and the prophet is cloaked in secrecy (vv.24-27). Jeremiah is frustrated by the king’s past refusal to listen (v.15). Still, he repeats God’s offer of mercy even at this late hour (vv.17,20). Yet once again the king fails to respond (as ch.39 shows). Zedekiah is hoping to hear that God has changed His mind; he cannot face the necessary change on his own part. Ironically, it was he, rather than Jeremiah, whose feet were “sunk in the mud” (v.22).
2 November Jer 39:1-10
The story of the fall of Jerusalem, so consistently prophesied by Jeremiah, is now briefly told (further details are given in ch.52). Zedekiah, who hasn’t dared let God save him and his family, now deserts the people he has doomed (v.4). His attempt to save himself on his own terms fails horribly (vv.5-7), as all such efforts must (see Mk 8:35). Verses 8-9 show the severity of Babylonian judgement, tempered by a measure of reconstruction (v.10) since chaos would be in no-one’s interests.
3 November Jer 39:11-18
Although Jeremiah had never advocated collaboration with the enemy, he had urged surrender to spare further bloodshed. The Babylonians responded by treating him well (vv.11-14). But behind their action we should see God’s hand. For as the story of Ebed-Melek implies, God alone determines what happens to the one who trusts in Him (vv.15-18).
4 November Jer 40:1-12
Jeremiah rejected preferential treatment in Babylon (vv.1-4), choosing instead to stay with Gedaliah and the people left behind (vv.4-6). Gedaliah was a Jew appointed as governor by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king (v.5). Gathering to Gedaliah (vv.7-8) implied submission to Babylon in line with God’s oft-repeated word through Jeremiah (v.9). God’s renewed blessing on the people and the land (vv.10-12) shows His unchanging purpose to do good to those who trust His word.
5 November Jer 40:13 – 41:18
Gedaliah’s generous attitude (40:13-16) was exploited by an assassin (41:1-3). Ishmael, his murderer, then displayed monstrous violence, slaughtering pilgrims who came to worship at the site of the ruined temple (41:4-9), and kidnapping many other people (41:10). Ishmael was in turn chased off the scene by Johanan and the army officers, and his captives were freed (41:11-15). But the fledgling community then repeated the mistake of turning to Egypt as a (false) refuge from Babylon (41:16-18).