READ : Jeremiah 38:1-13
I will fulfill my words against this city . . . But I will deliver you. (Jer. 39:16-17)
You don’t need to be able to pronounce the names of the Jewish leaders in verse 1 to
know that they represent the majority in Jerusalem, which is now being besieged by enemy
armies for the last time. The long history of the Hebrew kingdoms, stretching back to
David and Saul, has come to an end.
Nearly twenty years have passed since the events of yesterday’s reading, when Jehoiakim
burned Jeremiah’s book. The present king, Zedekiah, admires the prophet but can’t bring
himself actually to do as he says. He will be punished along with the rest of the
unbelieving, disobedient citizens of Jerusalem. Jeremiah remains faithful through much
suffering, and an African man named Ebed-melech, an official serving in the court of
Zedekiah, shows himself the prophet’s true friend and ally. They will both be preserved;
the promise to Ebed-melech is spelled out at the end of the next chapter (see
So the word given to Jeremiah back in chapter 1 comes true. An entire city – indeed,
whole nations and kingdoms – will be destroyed and overthrown according to his words,
yet at the same time the faithful remnant is saved with a view to the planting and
building of something new (see 1:10). All this is the work of “A God of faithfulness and
without iniquity; just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4).
We ascribe greatness to our God, the Rock; his work is perfect, and all his
ways are just.