Jeremiah 47-52…Conclusion of Jeremiah
Today we conclude our look at the book of Jeremiah. Despite occasional passages that are quite hopeful for the people of Judah (for example, Jer. 12:14–17; 31:31–37; 50:19–20), we have seen that most of Jeremiah’s prophecies are negative, foreseeing the sure destruction of Jerusalem and exile of Judah. How, then, did Jeremiah intend for the people of God to walk away after reading His work? What was his last word about the future of Jacob’s children?
We do not know how or when Jeremiah died, though many ancient traditions suggest he died in Egypt, where he was taken after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.(43:1–7). Chronologically speaking, Jeremiah’s final recorded words point to great trouble for the unfaithful Jews who escaped to Egypt (chap. 44). Yet Jeremiah does not conclude his work with those negative words; rather, he takes time in chapter 52 to narrate Babylon’s conquest of Jerusalem again, an event that took place some months or years prior to Jeremiah’s delivering his last prophecy before he died. The last thing he wanted the people of God to remember was not his final sermon but the fall of Jerusalem and the events related to it.
At first glance, it seems that Jeremiah wanted his original readers to walk away soberminded and sad, to not forget that impenitently disobeying the covenant Lord of Scripture leads finally to disaster. No doubt that is part of what he meant to convey. However, that is not the whole story, for chapter 52 ends not in devastated Jerusalem but rather in Babylon. Jeremiah concludes his work with a brief account of what happened to King Jehoiachin.
You will remember that Jehoiachin was the grandson of Josiah who reigned only three months in Judah. He and most of the royal family, as well as several leading officials in Jerusalem, were captured by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. and taken to Babylon when the Babylonians came to punish King Jehoiakim. By the time they got there, Jehoiakim was dead, so they took Jehoiachin instead and installed Zedekiah in his place (2 Kings 24:1–17).
Thirty-six years after Jehoiachin was captured, Nebuchadnezzar’s son Evil-merodach became king of Babylon and released Jehoiachin from prison. Although Jehoiachin had to remain in Babylon, he was given a higher seat, a more prominent place, than all the other kings Babylon had captured (Jer. 52:31–34). This is not an incidental detail but rather a hopeful sign that David’s throne had not been forgotten. The King of Judah would be exalted once more, which could only mean that God would indeed restore His people.