Thursday, June 24, 2021

Cup of Wrath


Week 25 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 25 


Located along the Euphrates River, Babylon, the capitol of the Babylonian Empire, is one of the most famous cities of ancient civilization. The Babylonian Empire (1875-539 BC) is known as a major military and political power over the years. Four thousand years ago and until its fall in 539 BC, Babylon knows great success and wealth. Eventually, Babylon becomes “one of the largest cities in the ancient world and becomes the Neo-Babylonian Empire that spans from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.”[1]

Also known as the Chaldeans, the Neo-Babylonian Empire is at it peak during the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Today, the ruins of Babylon are about 50-60 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq.

The new kings of this Neo-Babylonia Empire (626-539 BC) help Babylon to become “the most powerful state in the world after defeating the Assyrians at Nineveh in 612 BC.”[2] “Babylon becomes a city of beautiful and lavish buildings. Biblical and archaeological evidence point the forced exiles of thousands of Jews to Babylon around this time.”[3]

The Babylonian kings build several palaces and many shrines to false gods. Religious practices of Babylon mostly revolve around mythology and other idol worship. Lush landscapes of terraced trees and gardens with waterfalls become known as the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” and one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.” However, “archaeologists have turned up scant evidence of the gardens”[4] leaving their existence or location a mystery.

According to Herodotus, an Ancient Greek historian, when Babylon falls, the city is “14 miles square with two sets of walls, inner and outer, 350 feet high and 87 feet thick.”[5] In less than 100 years of its peak power, Cyrus the Great of Persian conquers Babylon. The remains today are no more than “mud-brick” remnants of buildings.

Babylon may have its roots in the Tower of Babel we find in Genesis, as some scholars think this tower may be in the same area, the southern portion of Mesopotamia. The people “are recorded as building a tower designed to reach the heavens. This may have been the beginning of a practice of building towers with religious significance.”[6] This “contributes to the long history of Babylon as a center of religious significance, and as a source of false religion and rebellion against the true God.”[7] There is “no Biblical reference to Babylon after Genesis 11 until the great prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel unfold God’s plan for the ancient city.”[8] In the New Testament, the name “Babylon” appears but most commentaries suggest it is a reference to Rome or the Roman Empire.


“Most important were Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the duration of captivity, designated as seventy years in Jeremiah 25:11. It was this prophecy read by Daniel which led to his prayer for the return of the captives to Jerusalem. (Dan 9:2)”[9] “The destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of Judah were not accidents; they were appointments, for God was in control.”[10] This chapter is still in between part of the exiles leaving and others still in Jerusalem. Jeremiah is now twenty-three years into his ministry and commentaries place this around 604 BC. What we know is that Jeremiah “continued to be faithful to his calling.”[11] 

The chapter is divided into two dominate messages, verses 1-14 as a message to the Jews, verses 15-38 as a message to the Gentile nations. After re-delivering God’s message to the leaders, Jeremiah now speaks to the people. The behaviors of disobedience to God, idol worship, and mocking of God’s servants continues. No one listens. Repent from wickedness is the same message. God desires His chosen people to dwell in this land forever, a land He is giving them. Requesting to stop worshiping other gods goes ignored. God says, “Yet you have not listened to Me.” (V 7) Continuing into verse 8, “Because you have not heard My words,” God will allow the Babylonian army to take you away. King Nebuchadnezzar will “utterly destroy” the land. As God sees it, Nebuchadnezzar is his “servant” in that he is fulfilling God’s purpose, whether Nebuchadnezzar recognizes this or not. 

The Big Reveal come in verse 11, “This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and all these nations shall server the King of Babylon for seventy years.” Until now, the length of captivity has not been discussed. This is new information. The next verse brings an even bigger shocker. After seventy years, “I will punish the King of Babylon and the Chaldeans for their iniquities. I will make it a perpetual desolation.” Babylon fulfills God’s purposes, but they will be punished for the ruthless way they treated both Jews and Gentiles.(vs 12-14)

Why seventy years? “One reason God determines a period of seventy years was that the land might enjoy the rest that the Jews had denied it. The law of the Sabbatical Year had been ignored for nearly 500 years.”[12] (See 2 Chronicles 36:20-21; Leviticus 25:3-5) “Failure to observe the Sabbath was tantamount to rejecting the covenant.”[13]

The message to the Gentile nations comes as God has called Jeremiah to minister “not only to Judah but also to the other nations.” (1:5, 1:10)[14] The Gentiles, while not in a covenant relationship with God, are still held accountable for their sinfulness. “Take this cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send you , to drink it.” (v 15) This “cup of fury” is symbolic of God’s cup of wrath, or anger to the nations. 

The last verses remind, “Behold, disagree shall go forth from nation to nation.” (v 32) Images of a lion, a wine press and a whirl wings represent suffering and judgment. A repeated image of an improper burial bears a statement of disgrace. The “shepherds” or the leaders (kings, nobility, priests, false prophets) are doomed. Harsh words come with images reminiscent of Jeremiah’s ‘action sermon’ of breaking the clay vessel. “You shall fall like a precious vessel.” (v 34). This “cup of fury” is God’s displeasure. 

For some extra reading, check out Revelation 16-18, to see the prophecy of Babylon when Christ returns. Babylon’s ‘cup of wrath’ is noted.


Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36

Despite dwelling in complete paradise and daily walking with the Creator, Adam and Eve not only encounter temptation but respond. Disobedience breaks their relationship with God. They are banned from paradise to toil the land. The consequences of sin are born in the garden of Eden.

     I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;
     And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses...[15]

On the night Jesus is arrested, He takes His disciples to pray. The deep loneliness reaches through the darkness as Jesus comes before His Father. Jesus recognizes the rebellion of humanity and the gravity of God’s judgement. God’s plan is for Jesus to follow a path of suffering, to take this “cup” of wrath, to endure alienation from God as the ransom for all sin. Perfect Love will submit to God’s will and usher in a renewed relationship with God with “sins forgiven, heaven secured, joy restored, peace.” Knowing the cost of humanity’s sin, Jesus’ willing, unselfish response to an incomparable choice fills the night. Grace is born in the garden of Gethsemane.

     And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,

     And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.[16].

We fall on our knees before our Father desperate for His healing intervention, His mending touch. With tears and sorrow and loneliness we cry out in our suffering demanding answers. Other times, with joy and hope we shout praises to God for miracles we could only imagine, resolutions greater than our requests, sighs of wonder rise with prayers of celebration. In all these moments we can feel the embrace of God, a God who chooses love and forgiveness and peace. We find Jesus in the garden of a God who can do all things! 

We do not trust him because of what we can prove from our circumstances, but from what is revealed about His character at the cross. There we learn that even when circumstances are awful and inexplicable, God will ultimately bring about the good He intends.  Gospel Transformation Notes


In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.1 John 4:10 

So, what is “Propitiation”? “Propitiation (Gk. hilasmos) here means ‘a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it to favor,’ and that is also the meaning of the English word “propitiation.” As the perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus turns away God’s wrath.”[17]

In this lesson, Jeremiah describes God’s “cup of wrath” for Judah. Within a new Covenant, God’s wrath for humanity’s sins is satisfied through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Will you take the cup of Jesus, the cup of forgiveness of sins, the cup of redemption, the cup of restoration, the cup of grace?

Donna Oswalt



[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid


[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid


[10] Be Decisive Taking a Stand for Truth; Wiersbe, Warren, p 111

[11] Wiersbe Study Bible notes, Jeremiah Chapter 25

[12] Be Decisive; Wiersbe, Warren, p 113

[13] Archaeological Study Bible, Leviticus 25

[14] Wiersbe Study Bible notes Jeremiah 25

[15] In the Garden, 1912; song by Charles Austin Miles

[16] Ibid

[17] ESV Study Bible notes; 1 John 4:10

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Two Baskets of Figs


Week 24 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 24; 2 Kings 24:10-20


Chapters 21-24 complete a narrative of the end of what scholars call the Davidic dynasty. This ending is God’s judgment on the sins of Judah. Present judgment and future restoration are God’s conjoined messages for His people. In order to preserve this plan, part of God’s provision allows for the most godly and faithful remnant to be taken into exile in Babylon. Daniel, the prophet, is part of this exile.

“The primary young leaders taken into exile with Daniel are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”[1] (See Daniel 9:2-5) Most believe this happens about 605 BC in the first exile. Ezekiel is likely taken in the second exile in 597 BC. Many of these exiles are taken from Judah to be protected, as they will be God’s resources for Israel’s rebuilding. They will be God’s faithful ones to keep God before the people. (See Daniel 1:1-7)

“Daniel and Ezekiel were the only prophets to conduct their entire ministries while in captivity.”[2] Taken into captivity as a teenager, Daniel brings God’s message to the “Jewish community during their seventy years of Babylonian exile.”[3] With a vision of hope, Daniel “challenged them to hold to their heritage as God’s chosen people.”[4] Despite the dire circumstances of exile, “The Jews were an insignificant people in the world’s eyes, but in reality they were defended by the very power of heaven.”[5]

Daniel’s belief in God’s sovereignty is foundational for the return of the exiles to rebuild Jerusalem. Continuing long after Jeremiah’s ministry ends, the transformation of the exiles into a spiritually refreshed people is necessary. Being a non-conformist, Daniel and others are key leaders in preparing the people to have hope in a time of chaos and uncertainty. 


The timeline is thirty or more years into Jeremiah’s ministry, after the first deportation 605 BC, and somewhere in between the second exiles leaving (597 BC) and the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC). Chapter 24 is another of Jeremiah’s object lessons that uses two baskets of figs to present a message.

Agriculturally, to know about figs helps us understand this lesson. “The long growing season in the land of Israel makes it possible foe figs to ripen two times a year. The first figs produce the sweetest crop.”[6]

These “choice figs symbolized the first exiles that had been already carried away to Babylon.”[7] Another other interesting note is “figs appear in the Bible some sixty times, usually representing peace and security.”[8] However, “these two baskets of figs are placed in front of the temple.”[9] Likely this may have been during the second harvest of figs, allowing for some distinction between good and bad figs.  “This may have been during the autumn festival called First Fruits”[10] (Dt.26:1-11)

Jehoiakim is taken to Babylon, and soon Zedekiah will be appointed king of Judah. This signifies the final stage of Judah’s fall. We know from 2 Kings 24:10-20 that along with the exiles, Nebuchadnezzar took treasures from the temple and the palace. The good figs are good and the bad figs, bad. The good figs represent the remnant, those who have been exiled to Babylon. The best is taken to Babylon.

Hope comes with God’s message for the remnant, those exiled to Babylon. His promise of restoration comes in the form of a new heart. “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” (v 7). All this doom and destruction comes because of their unrepentant hearts, but the core truth is that God has a plan of transformation. With this preservation of the remnant will come a change of heart, a change in the inner nature. The Hebrew for “know” is yada which is a knowledge beyond intellectual knowing. It refers to an experiential knowledge, a relational knowing. To return with their “whole heart” means a complete and total commitment. “The promises of God are based on His unchanging character.”[11]

The bad figs, the rotten figs refer to Zedekiah, the uncle of Jeconiah and second son of Jehoiakim, and to those who remain to the end. In verse 9 we see the trouble that will come to them. They will be disgraced and become a parable that should be easy to remember. These leftovers will be objects of ridicule and mocked. This will be their end.


Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. [God] does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. Galatians 3:15-18 NKJV

Finding him faithful and obedient, God makes a covenant with Abram, long before God calls him Abraham. In fact, God’s changeless promise comes over 400 years before He gives the law to Moses. This promise is not between Abraham and God; this binding promise is between God and God (see Genesis 15:12-18). Many translations use the word Abraham’s “descendants” but this translates to the Hebrew word for “seed”. In its collective meaning of a people, the faithful remnant of Abraham’s descendants will fulfill God’s promise, while its singular meaning refers to Christ, the Promised Seed. God’s changeless promise endures forever.

God’s faithfulness affirms the necessary Promised Seed, for humanity can never save itself. The law given to Moses is not replaced by Christ, rather serves as a tutor to bring us to Christ, for humanity can never completely keep the law. Believers experience Abraham’s seed in Christ, the Changeless Promise representing unmeasured grace, and stand as a collective people of Abraham’s seed confessing one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. 

Jesus, Chosen One, grace falls gently over me like a cool stream in a dry and rocky land. In You I find no contradictions. Like a gentle breeze on a summer’s day, You bring my soul relief. In You I find gentleness. Great is Your faithfulness to a sinner who flounders and falls, who loses sight of hope and holds on to hurt, who must surrender but resists submission. Yet, Eternal Seed, You choose me! 


Consider the following thought and reflect: We may assume we are blessed when life goes well and cursed when it does not. But trouble is a blessing when it makes us stronger, and prosperity is a curse if it entices us away from God. If you are facing trouble, ask God to help you grow stronger for him. If things are going your way, ask God to help you use your prosperity for him.[12]

Donna Oswalt

[1] Shepherd’s Notes Jeremiah and Lamentations

[2] Blackaby Study Notes Daniel

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Quest Study Bible Jeremiah Chapter 24

[7] Ibid

[8] Walking the Ancient Paths Commentary on Jeremiah, Kaiser, Walter C; p289

[9] Ibid

[10] Blackaby Study Bible

[11] Walking the Ancient Paths Commentary on Jeremiah, Kaiser, Walter C; p291

[12] Chronological Life Application Study Bible Jeremiah Chapter 24

Thursday, June 10, 2021

His Holy Words

Week 23 – Book of Jeremiah 

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 23 


False prophets, sometimes called false teachers, tell lies and partial truths, and they offer false assurance. In our lesson this week, Jeremiah gives God’s message to the prophets, the priests, and the people who believe them. These people are in opposition to God’s true prophets, such as Jeremiah. Jeremiah exposes the false prophets and their message which “is rooted in a historical backdrop of moral compromise.”[1] 

Historically, this is a time of military defeat and political corruption. The religious leaders are teaching and living a lifestyle that does not represent the One True God. The Northern Kingdom falls to the Assyrian army which then loses its power as the Babylonians army rises to become the new military power. The spiritual revival Judah sees with king Josiah fades as Egypt and Babylon battle. All this time, false prophets tell the people what they want to hear, that all will be fine, and Judah cannot fall. Just ignore Jeremiah.

Interesting, the Old Testament provides guidance for the people to help them identify a true prophet. The references are Deuteronomy 18:15-22, 13:1-9. Here are the “5 tests for a true prophet: 1) must be an Israelite (Dt. 18:18), 2) speak in the name of Yahweh (Dt. 18:20), 3) predict the near as well as the distant future (Dt. 18:21-22), 4) perform signs and wonders with the prophecy (Dt. 13:1-3), 5) has to conform to the previously revealed word of Yahweh (Dt. 13:6-9).[2] The false leaders do not hold to these standards.

“The sins of these false prophets are a special abomination in God’s sight.”[3] Their self-serving teachings either indicate a lack of knowledge of God or simple a choice to ignore the truth. Their messages of peace and hope are without merit. “These prophets do not serve the truth, and they do not serve Yahweh.”[4] The integrity of the true prophets is undermined by these who bring an untrue message.


Jeremiah starts this chapter with “woe” which is a word to suggest calamity, and he addresses the “shepherds” who are destroying “the sheep of My pasture”. The leaders are addressed in Chapter 23, leaders who being held accountable and will be punished by God leading the people astray. The prophets and priests are confronted. The first ‘Behold’ of this chapter comes before the end of verse 2. This interjection means look and look now! What are we to see? God is promising that in time He will “gather the remnant of My flock our of all countries where I have driven them” and return them to Jerusalem. He will appoint new leaders, faithful, godly leaders, such as Zerubbabel, Joshua the High Priest, Ezra, and Nehemiah. This is hope. God’s message reveals His plan to bring them back, build them into a nation. This is a promise of transformation.

Again, we have ‘Behold’ (v 5), and this is even more important. We see a promise when God will “raise to David a Branch of Righteousness”. This ‘branch’ is a term for Messiah. What will this Messiah do? He will ‘execute judgment and righteousness”, and “Judah will be saved”. The people now have another promise that Israel will dwell in safety. Who is this leader? “He will be called The LORD Our Righteousness.” This is a picture of restoration. 

“Yahweh our Righteousness” and the “Righteous Branch” refer to Jesus Christ. “No matter how dark the day may be, God sends the light of hope through His promise.”[5] This is a foretelling of the Promised Messiah. In verses 5-8, “the days are coming” is part of the messianic prophecy, an encouragement to the godly remnant of Judah. This hope sustains them. The remnant comes from “all countries, all the displacement that occurs between the conquering of the Northern Kingdom (931 BC) and Southern Kingdom (586 BC), a group to come back together as one people. “Remnant is used 19 times in Jeremiah. A remnant did return to Judah after captivity, rebuild the temple, and restore national life.”[6] This name Jehovah Tsidkenu, the LORD our Righteousness, is an “exalted name only applied to Jesus Christ.”[7]

The message to the false prophets (false leaders) continues, and Jeremiah is troubled and disappointed with the religious leaders. “My heart within me is broken.” He grieves the sins that God reveals. True prophets have taken vows and have responsibilities to their calling, but the false prophets live just like the sinners. There is a comparison to the prophets of Samaria, who participate in pagan worship; however, the prophets of Judah are worse because they pretend to worship God but tell lies, claim to speak for God. God says He did not call them. They speak their on version of truth from their own hearts. “Their lives and teaching lessons are no moral guide by which to live or act.”[8] 

God’s righteous anger promises destruction. The false leaders give false messages of false assurance. God has not given them any authority to speak for Him. In verse 24 we see God’s holiness, His omnipresence and omniscience, His being all places and knowing all things. These false prophets teach popular theology, say what the people want to hear. Finding their own inspiration, the messages are misleading and weak, full of false dreams. It is clear, God is against these false prophets (v 31). 

The ending comes with questions and the word “oracles” is used. The better translation of this is, “What is the burden of the LORD?” Clearly, the messages and lifestyles of these false prophets and priests and people who follow is the burden of the LORD. “You have perverted the words of the living God.”(v 36) God says, “I will cast you our of My presence.”(v39) This is the beginning of a spiritual restoration.


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you shall know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. 1 John 4:1-3 ESV

Scofield’s commentary on this Scripture suggests two marks of false teachers: “(a) Erroneous doctrine concerning Christ’s Person and (b) Erroneous attitude toward the world."[9] To assume that everything we hear or read about God is “true” can open our hearts and minds to false teaching. Those who have a world viewpoint use this as their reference and may have many followers. Some who speak the name of Jesus can lead others down the wrong path. Scripture tells us to discern the Spirit of Truth from a spirit of untruth by comparing the truths of God’s Word against the words we hear. The world will tell you there are “no absolute truths” and unfortunately, you can even hear that in some churches. "What's true for you is true!" is not compatible with the Word of God. 

What absolute truths do Christians believe? One truth is found in 1 John 4:7-21. God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God but that He loves us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. . . We love because He first loved us. Christ’s deity is an absolute truth, just as His humanity, miracles of healing, ministry of love and forgiveness, experiences of betrayal, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Listen carefully to the rhetoric of others; read prayerfully the words in books. Study and know God’s Word. Listen for the Spirit of Truth. 


Robert Laha says about this conflict between the false prophets and their messages and God’s messages of truth: This conflicted raise one of the most perplexing problems of any age: How do we distinguish what is of God’s mind and what is simply the wishes or our own minds.[10]

  •          What do you do to help you distinguish between God’s purpose and plan and your own personal desires? 

Warren Wiersbe says this: Whenever a nation needs healing, it’s usually because God’s people aren’t obeying and serving Him as they should. We like to blame dishonest politicians and various purveyors of pleasure for a nation’s decline in morality, but God blames His own people.[11]

  •    How do you think our nation is doing? Are we each willing to take individual ownership for the healing of America?

Donna Oswalt



[1] False Prophets in Jeremiah, The Message of the False Prophets in Jeremiah; Jones, Matt

[2] Walking the Ancient Paths, A Commentary on Jeremiah; Kaiser, Walter C, p283

[3] Interpretation Bible Studies, Jeremiah, Laha, Robert, p60

[4] Ibid, p 61

[5] Wiersbe Study Bible, Jeremiah Chapter 23

[6] Be Decisive, Jeremiah; Wiersbe, Warren, p 105

[7] Ibid

[8] Walking the Ancient Paths, A Commentary on Jeremiah; Kaiser, Walter C, p283

[9] Scofield Study Bible notes on false teachers

[10] Interpretation Bible Studies, Jeremiah; Laha, Robert, p61

[11] Be Decisive, Jeremiah; Wiersbe, Warren; p106

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Hear the Word of the LORD

Week 22 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 22


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles. Daniel 1:1-3

This account in Daniel marks the Biblical timeline about 605BC, when Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem and takes King Jehoiakim and other Jewish captives to Babylon. This earlier deportation of Jewish captives includes Daniel. Some one hundred-fifty years before, the prophesy of Isaiah (39:7) indicates some of Hezekiah’s descendants will be taken to Babylon and become palace officials. Now this prophecy is fulfilled.

King Jehoiakim, the Judean king from 609-598 BC, is the second son of Josiah and a self-absorbed, tyrannical king. His mother’s name is Zebidah, and she names her son Eliakim, but Pharaoh Necho of Egypt changes it to Jehoiakim. Reigning for 11 years, Jehoiakim becomes king at 25 years old and is the 18th king of Judah. Known for overtaxing the people of Judah for Egypt’s benefit, he is an evil king.

In 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar takes Jehoiakim prisoner, bound in bronze chains (2 Chronicles 36:5-8), but allows him to return to Jerusalem’s throne, making him a vassal king, Nebuchadnezzar’s own servant-king. Three yeas later Jehoiakim rebels (2 Kings 24:1-2), but God sends many soldiers from various armies to fight against Judah and destroy it as had been the prophecy. For 11 years Jehoiakim reigns, then dies a violent death when his body “having been thrown over the wall of Jerusalem,… is buried beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”[1] Jeremiah’s prophecy of Jehoiakim is fulfilled. 


This week in Chapter 22:18-19, we see Jehoiakim’s rejection of Yahweh. In a later chapter, we will see Jehoiakim’s arrogant act of cutting up and the burning of Jeremiah’s first draft of his prophecies. The self-indulgent behaviors and sins of Judah continue to be rejected by God, and a specific message to the royal families and their servants comes in Chapter 22. All the last four kings are mentioned in this passage, “Zedekiah (22: 1-9), Jehoahaz (Shallum)(22:10-12), Jehoiakim (Eliakim)(22:13-19), and Jehoiachin (Coniah) (22:24-20).”[2]

“Go down to the house of the king” may indicate Jehoiakim’s summer palace. Ramat Rahel is between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a signal point two miles south of Jerusalem, an old Israelite citadel during the late 7th Century BC. And the message? “Execute judgment and righteousness”. The familiar and repeated message, foundational to the covenant, is to do justice and righteousness, deliver the oppressed, do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood. Again, like many other times, it is simply ignored.

It is believed this summer palace demonstrates the excessive materialism and egocentric desires of Jehoiakim. The comparison to Gilead and Lebanon refer to the materials used to build the palace, as both are areas renowned for their cedar forests. He likely uses the people as cheap labor all the while they lack basic necessities. Jehoiakim does what he pleases and gets what he wants. God says, “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?’” The reply echoes again, because the people have broken their covenant with the LORD and worshipped idols. 

Look back at Deuteronomy 29:24 and find the exact same words and warning to the same group of people in the days of Moses. To break the covenant by worshiping idols denies the sovereignty of God. The message to not weep for the dead references Jehoahaz or Shallum, the 18-year-old son of Josiah who had been carried to Egypt in 609 BC after 3 months as king. 

In vs 13, we see a warning, suggesting the building of one’s house with unrighteousness and injustice. It seems Jehoiakim is more interested in building this palace, perhaps the summer palace, than the crisis Judah is facing. There are references to the windows and cedar paneling. In the early 1960’s, archaeologists find, “the ruins of Beth Hakkerem”[3] or Ramat Rahel (Jeremiah 6:1), the signal point two miles south of Jerusalem. The discoveries include “columns with traces of red paint that formed the banister and railing of a window. Larger capitals were found with recesses at the top for ceiling beams, which were typically made of cedar wood. These finds remarkably match the description of Jehoiakim’s palace in Jeremiah 22:13–15; indeed, Ramat Rahel may have served as the king’s summer palace (Jeremiah 36:22).”[4] 

Jehoiakim, like many modern day politicians, profits from the poor while ignoring their cries. His ultimate punishment will be no laments, rather the “burial of a donkey” (vs 18). This essential means no real burial ceremony at all. In ancient times, “a proper burial was critically important, since to remain unburied was considered a dreadful fate.”[5] This prophecy is fulfilled in Jeremiah 36:30. Prophecy continues to tell us that from the mountains to both the north and south the end is coming. This prophecy of captivity (v 22) is fulfilled in 597 BC with the 1st group taken into captivity.     

Coniah, son of Jehoiakim and known as Jehoiachin, also has prophecies spoken about him. The image of a “signet ring” signifies a type of seal that is used to authenticate or authorize. God is removing him from having any authority. Coniah is exiled with his mother, Nehushta, and remains in prison as long as Nebuchadnezzar reigns (598-562 BC). While he is called childless, this means that he will have no son, no descendants will sit on the throne of Judah. In fact, Coniah actually has seven sons (1 Chronicles 3:17-18). We find Jehoiachin mentioned in Matthew 1:12 in the ancestry of Jesus. His grandson, Zerubbabel, becomes the governor of Judah (Haggai 1:1, 2:1-9), but not a king. Zerubbabel will return to Jerusalem with Joshua the High Priest and a remnant of people and direct the rebuilding of the temple. 

Zedekiah is not the son of Coniah, rather he is a son of Josiah. He succeeds Coniah, when Nebuchadnezzar names him king. These are the last kings of Judah, the last king in the Davidic lineage until Jesus Christ.


For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24

In ancient times, even when the nation of Israel is nearly 1,500 years old, the people struggle to keep their covenant with God. Idolatry and false prophets and self-indulgent leaders challenge the One True God and His chosen prophets. These are difficult times. The message from God comes over and over, repeatedly warning of destruction and doom which can be avoided with true repentance. Good kings, even great kings will come and go, some bringing spiritual awakening and revival, pointing the people back to God. Wisdom will reign then fall, goodness will strive then end. The people desperately need hope and redemption, but their unrepentant hearts fall short. 

Looking at the first-century church, the underlying tensions and quiet rebellion within Jerusalem and the inner circles of Jewish leadership compete with Rome’s political agenda. Factions among Christian believers clash with Jewish tradition. These are difficult times. Their only hope rests in the resurrection of Christ, in the spreading of the Good News. HOPE lives in the presence of God. 

Today, we live in a world that craves immediate gratification and power that breeds arrogance, pride, and self-sufficiency. We experience conflict and contradiction on all sides. These are difficult times. So, after all these centuries, what hope do we have? Jesus, through all generations, throughout all time, You are still the only HOPE! Grace pours over me and refreshes my soul in the chaos of this world. For now, Jesus, You live in the presence of God and speak my prayers before Him. Count me alive in Christ. Holy Spirit, live in me.


  •      When the leaders get it wrong, where can you still find goodness and justice? How do you live this?
  •     The world, as a whole, functions a lot like these self-important, self-focused kings of Judah. People are secondary, fairness falters, innocent people lose. What are some ways Christians can make a difference, turn the table, be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus to others that cross our paths? And when you and I have complied our answers… will we?

Donna Oswalt



[1] Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Jehoiakim

[2] Walking the Ancient Paths, A Commentary on Jeremiah,  Kaiser, Walter C, p 267

[3] Archaeological Study Bible, Ramat Rahel

[4] Ibid

[5] Archaeological Study Bible, Jeremiah notes