The Scriptorium

The Lesson of History

Zedekiah would not learn it. Jeremiah 22.1-11

Shepherds False and True (1)

Pray Psalm 132.8-11.
Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let Your saints should for joy.
For Your servant David’s sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your anointed.

Sing Psalm 132.8-10.
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place;
Your holy presence meet with us in might.
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace,
and we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face,
but look upon us in Your holy light.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 22.1-10.

1. Read Psalm 132. What did God promise to Zedekiah in our text for today?

2. Did the Lord expect Zedekiah to believe Him (vv. 6-11)?

The philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Jeremiah 22 and 23 are a study in that sad truth; together, they urge us both to remember the past and learn from it, and to cling to the promises of God with renewed commitment and vigor.

We recall that, at this time in Jeremiah’s ministry, Zedekiah was king over Jerusalem and Judah (cf. Jer. 21.30. Already, by this time, Josiah’s son Shallum had been carried away to Egypt, never to return. Jehoiakim, who succeeded him, had been taken away to Babylon at Nebuchadnezzar’s first incursion into Judah. And his son, Jehoiachin (Coniah), was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar when he returned to plunder the temple (we’ll see more about these events as we work our way through Jeremiah 22).

So Zedekiah was king over Jerusalem and Judah at this time, and Nebuchadnezzar returned for what would be his final assault against Jerusalem. The results of this siege would be disastrous. Zedekiah has not listened to Jeremiah thus far, and, as we shall see, he will not listen to him from this point forward. He will learn nothing from Jeremiah’s brief history lesson, and he will pay a terrible price for his willful ignorance.

Even so, God continued to send Jeremiah to the king, holding out the promise sung about in Psalm 132, that God would bless David’s offspring to the extent that they remained faithful to Him (Jer. 22.1-4). In his own living memory, Zedekiah had seen the demise of three of his predecessors. But he learned nothing. He would not “hear these words” from the Lord (v. 5); and so, he could expect that God would judge him as surely as He had judged the three kings before him.

Zedekiah was about to squander the last best hope for the people of God. God was preparing a desolation so complete and so bitter, that the surround nations would marvel and be amazed (vv. 6-11). Zedekiah’s fate would be more terrible than that of his forebears, for he would be made to watch as his sons – heirs to the throne of David – were slaughtered before his eyes. And that would be the last thing Zedekiah would ever see, as Nebuchadnezzar blinded him immediately thereafter (2 Kgs. 25.6, 7).

Will we make the same mistake of being ignorant of or indifferent to our history as God’s people? The record shows that when the Church is faithful to God and His covenant, blessings abound; but when we drift, or turn our backs on God and His Word, then judgment falls, just as God promises. God is faithful to His Word, and the record of our history demonstrates that in every generation.

1. Why would it be important or Christians to know something about Church history?

2. What have you learned from your own personal history with the Lord and His Word?

3. How might you begin to learn more about God’s history with His people throughout the ages?

The Prophet is again bidden to reprove the king and his counsellors; but the exhortation is at the same time extended to the whole people. It was necessary to begin with the head, that the common people might know that it was not a matter to be trifled with, as God would not spare, no, not even the king himself, and his courtiers; for a greater terror seized the lower orders, when they saw the highest laid prostrate. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 22.1

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness to Your Word; help me to be faithful as I…

Pray Psalm 132.11-18.
Pray for your church, and for all believers, that they will be faithful in keeping covenant with God, and that we may all increase in our sanctification and in shining our lamp for the Lord.

Sing Psalm 132.11-18.
Psalm 132.11-18 (Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David;
do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor
,and he shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever,
Thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

God dwells among us, and He will forever,
to meet our needs and cloth us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior,
and made us His eternal resting-place
.His foes are banished from His presence ever,
but we shall reign with Him before His face.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore