The Destruction of Jerusalem
Why does Jeremiah keep talking about the wrath of God? Doesn’t he realize by now that we get it— Don’t disobey God because if you do, while he might be patient with you for a while, you’re sure to get what’s coming to you in the end.
But this passage isn’t only filled with bad news, there’s good news here, too.
And, as Tim Keller likes to say “unless you point to the good news of God’s grace people will not be able to bear the bad news of God’s judgement.”
So let’s start with the good news in the passage, then move to the bad news, and then wrap it up with some more good news.
Not everyone was destroyed in the fall of Jerusalem. For many poor people it was a day of salvation.
However, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and he gave them vineyards and fields at that time.
Now, I’m not trying to make a political statement here, but let’s at least acknowledge that this is a redistribution of wealth.
The property of the wealthy landowners was redistributed among the poor which was a kind of salvation for them.
Of course, in the future God is going to do this on a much larger scale when he takes the wealth of the unfaithful and gives it to those who trust in him.
Imagine being one of those slaves that we read about a few chapters back. Your harsh master are taken away and then you’re given their land. It would be a time of rejoicing.
So the good news here in this passage is that the poor, who owned nothing, were given vineyards and fields which is a type of salvation. That’s the first thing.
Notice also that it was a day of salvation for Jeremiah and his servants.
For Jeremiah in verses 11-12:
Speaking through Nebuzaradan, captain of the guards, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gave orders concerning Jeremiah: “Take him and look after him. Don’t do him any harm, but do for him whatever he says.”
What a difference a few days makes. Jeremiah had been put in prison and thrown in a cistern by his own people but with the invasion of Babylon things were starting to look up for him.
God hadn’t forgotten Jeremiah as Jerusalem was being destroyed and God won’t forget one single believer on the the day of Judgement either. Every single person that belongs to God will be saved.
So Jeremiah was given a royal escort out of the guard’s courtyard and in the loving arms of his family.
And Ebed-Melech was saved, too. Remember he was the black slave that God used to save Jeremiah from the cistern.
This is what the Lord told Ebed-Melech:
But I will rescue you on that day—this is the Lord’s declaration—and you will not be handed over to the men you dread. Indeed, I will certainly deliver you so that you do not fall by the sword. Because you have trusted in me, you will retain your life like the spoils of war. This is the Lord’s declaration.’ ”
This is great news. The gospel isn’t just for white people, or Jewish people, it is for all people, even for black African slaves who put their faith in Christ. God won’t forget a single one of his people.
Now, let’s ask ourselves why was Ebed-Melech saved? It was because he trusted in the Lord. Ebed-Melech was brave and courageous but that’s not why God saved him. He was saved by faith and that’s good news for the poor and it’s great news for those that society rejects. It’s wonderful news for us.
But it’s bad news for those who don’t trust in God.
When Zedekiah saw the King of Babylon’s men approaching the city he fled. He snuck out at night but didn’t get to far before he was caught and brought back to Nebuchadnezzar.
Zedekiah’s family and friends suffered first.
At Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, and he also slaughtered all Judah’s nobles.
Then, Zedekiah, himself, got what was coming to him.
Then he blinded Zedekiah and put him in bronze chains to take him to Babylon.
And then as a picture of final judgment the city of Jerusalem was burned.
The Chaldeans next burned down the king’s palace and the people’s houses and tore down the walls of Jerusalem.
And everyone who hadn’t been rescued by God or otherwise killed was deported to Babylon.
Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, deported the rest of the people to Babylon—those who had remained in the city and those deserters who had defected to him along with the rest of the people who remained.
On the day of judgment there will be two different kinds of people—the sheep and the goats. The sheep will be saved but the goats will be lost forever. Jesus, himself, promised that the righteous will be given eternal life but the unrighteous will go away to eternal punishment (Matt 25:46).
It’s to be expected that on the day of final judgement many will try to escape it. Some will try to convince God that they’ve been good enough but that won’t work because no one can be good enough. Others will be counting on God’s wrath being exaggerated and that they’ll just slip into heaven, but there will be no hope for those not trusting ing Christ.
So what happened to Zedekiah should serve as serious warning for those who are hoping to escape the wrath to come. Zedekiah, in fact, suffered a fate far worse than death. He had to watch as his sons were killed and then he had to live out the rest of his days blind and in chains to the amusement of his captors. Talk about a living hell.
This sounds harsh but remember Zedekiah had every opportunity to repent yet he refused to listen.
That’s the bad news, but for those who do listen there is...
Only Good News
Only Good News
Every sinner who comes to Christ in faith is like a person snatched from the flames. Ebed-Melech, Jeremiah, and the others were people who were literally taken out of the flames of burning Jerusalem.
That’s good news for them and for us but it’s our responsibility to help rescue even more people from the flames as well.
Jude 22–23 (CSB)
Have mercy on those who waver; save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear...
As cities literally burn around us and people are dying in Ukraine, and elsewhere, it is our God given responsibility to help save as many as we can, not just from physical harm, but from eternal destruction.
So, now, more than ever, I hope we sense the urgency of our calling. The final day of judgment is coming. It may be far away or it may be near but either way, we are one day closer to the time when the enemies of God will be cast into the flames of hell and the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
So now is not the time to sit back and relax and wait for the end, or our end, to come, it’s time to be about our Father’s business more than ever. It’s time to live and share the gospel. It’s time to show mercy on others by snatching them from the fire.