What God commands Prophet Jeremiah here to speak before Israel, let us consider this one: “Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place(v.3).” Considering the desolation that was to visit the city soon (and inhabitants taken prisoners and to exile), would it not sound rather strange? His words here are addressed to kings of Judah past and present. Terrible fate awaiting Jehoiakim (Coniah) touches the present. The Spirit elliptically touches also on the king of kings, and Lord of Lords in future. God’s judgment therefore covers all past present future. In a way He is withholding the blessings He had promised to the nation for breaking their covenant. Way of life was what Moses had mentioned and blessings or curse was dependent on what they chose. Way of life or way of death? Here what the kings of Judah faced belonged to the result of their choice.
On one hand we have reference to King David and If Jerusalem was so special surely He would have averted the evil, would he not? We have seen these judgements were partial. So prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and others prophesied which the Spirit organized not in any chronological order. These touch the specific as well general,- nation of Israel and the Gentiles, in God’s Time. King Zedekiah hoping for a miracle (as God had worked when Sennacherib and his Assyrian host were routed overnight) was misplaced. God offers no such remedy but make the city desolate eventually. Consider these verses: “And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?/ Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them (vv.8-9). Here it is referring to the end times.
Perpetual backsliding of the nation has proven their apostasy was more ingrained in them than divine chastisement could cure. Righteous God would instead shame them by choosing the Gentiles. Consequently God had set in motion the advent of the Son as Servant-King as well as the Messiah-King. Of this one is already fulfilled. It led to the founding of the Church. Did Israel learn the lesson despite of all that befell them? The Spirit instructs us that their evil connected the dots all the way to the choice they made before Moses (De.30:19). Had they chosen way of life they would not have sought a king to lead them as other nations about them. God had allowed Samuel to give in to their wishes. He also made it clear that they were not refusing his office as a judge but Him. What it brought in wake was a curse of disobedience and fate of Coniah mentioned in vv,18-24 was foreordained. These kings chose way of death didn’t they? So the burden of the prophet had to go beyond the very fortunes of the nation and the city of the great king(Matt.5:35).
God also cites a reason: ‘they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.’ It is to be seen in the context of the everlasting covenant. We have already discussed while studying Prophet Isaiah. The Spirit places also an everlasting emblem of ‘the lamb slain before the world began (Re.13:8). Legality of such a covenant was the word forever settled in heaven (Ps.119:89). Moses’ exhortation to choose life was on the basis of life of God the Son (I am the way, the truth and life). God shall renew this everlasting covenant when Jesus Christ create the heaven and the earth as new (Re.21:5) Out of Zion the law shall go forth and Israel and nations dwell on the new earth and there shall be no temple or animal sacrifice. Instead it shall be the House of Prayer for all nations.
Thus saith the Lord; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
2 And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
3 Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.
6 For thus saith the Lord unto the king’s house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
7 And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.
And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?
9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.
10 Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
11 For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:
12 But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
13 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;
14 That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
15 Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord.
17 But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
18 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
20 Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.
21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
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;
25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.
30 Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.