What does it say?
The campaign against Jeremiah is as unrelenting as his prophecy (Jer 38). His enemies accuse him of treason and subversive influence and cast him into the vilest part of the prison with no water and planted in mire. Only quick, delicate and dangerous intervention on behalf of his Ethiopian friend and king Zedekiah saves his life. Still desperate for any word from God, Zedekiah secretly consults with Jeremiah and keeps him in the prison courtyard until the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 39 records Jerusalem’s fall to Babylon, the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies. Zedekiah’s sons are killed, his eyes put out and he is taken prisoner to Babylon. Babylon spares Jeremiah and treats him with dignity. God gives Jeremiah a word promising deliverance for his Ethiopian friend that rescued him from prison.
In chapter 40 the Babylonians free Jeremiah and offer him the choice of going to Babylon or staying in the land. He chooses to stay with the people who remained. Babylon commissions Gedaliah to be governor of the remaining people, but he is politically naïve and is soon assassinated.
Psalms 74 and 79 are laments for the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that we see described in Jeremiah.
What does it mean?
Jeremiah has given his entire life to God’s mission. In obedience to God, Jeremiah has remained single, courageously confronted monarchs, endured constant attacks, doubts, emotions and the worst of prison conditions. Now he witnesses the horror and reality of what he has predicted. There is no smug satisfaction or “told you so,” but only sadness for his people. In the end God protects and provides for him.
God also remembered the courage and kindness of Ebedmelech the Ethiopian that rescued Jeremiah from prison. For both Jeremiah and his Ethiopian friend we feel a sense of God having said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
God never promises us comfort in his mission. In fact, he promises that there will be trials and suffering. Those of us who live in abundance constantly fight the temptation to evaluate life by what brings us greater comfort, satisfaction, security, etc., rather than to simply focus on our faithfulness to God.
How will I respond?
When was the last time I actually suffered for the sake of Christ? When was the last time I sacrificed for the cause of Christ? Is there even a small step of inconvenience I can take this week for the sake of God’s mission?