“The God Who Keeps His Promises”
The Book of Jeremiah ends with both a word of judgment and a word of hope. Throughout his prophecy, Jeremiah has been warning the people about God’s coming judgment for their sin. As we journeyed throughout Jeremiah, we read about the wickedness and idolatry that ran rampant in Judah and how Jeremiah called the people back to God. And yet, they refused to listen to him. Because of this, Jeremiah warned them of the imminent judgment awaiting them at the hands of Babylon, God’s instrument. This chapter is the long-awaited fulfillment of decades of prophecy. God’s word is true and can be trusted, and he will keep his word to punish his people, because they have refused to turn back to him. There are real consequences for their sins, and the details here can be hard to read: The city will be devastated, the Temple will be ransacked, and the people will be decimated—or, carted off to Babylon in numerous exile (over the course of several years) against their will, taken to a foreign land away from all they know and hold dear. God will keep his word and the guilty will, by no means, go unpunished (see Exodus 34:6–7).
But as much as Jeremiah 52 is a word of judgment, it’s also a word of hope. Notice how the book ends. The scene flashes decades forward to 562 BC. Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Evil-merodach, becomes king and extends grace to Jehoiachin, one of Judah’s former kings. If you go back and do some reading on Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah), you’ll learn that he was a wicked king who ruled for only a few months at age 18 before being taken off the throne by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC. Zedekiah, his uncle, became king in his place and would rule over Judah until he tried to rebel against Babylon. But for some reason, when Evil-merodach becomes king, he shows kindness to this former king of Judah. Maybe Jehoiachin was likeable, or maybe he was intriguing to the Babylonian king because he had been imprisoned for 37 years.
But I think there’s something deeper going on here. The book ends this way to remind us that God will keep his word and judge his people. A king from David’s line eats at the king of Babylon’s table. God has promised an everlasting lineage to David, that a king from his line will always reign forever—and God keeps his promises. The image of these two men sitting together at the king’s table is a reminder that God isn’t finished yet with his people. He will preserve a remnant, for his glory, and continue David’s lineage. And if you pick up Matthew’s genealogy, you’ll read about Jehoiachin’s lineage (a head’s up, though: Matthew refers to him as Jeconiah), which leads all the way to Jesus Christ. God is faithful to keep the promises he makes. He will preserve the line of David for his glory and for the good of his people, and through David’s line will come the Mediator of the new covenant. This is news to go tell on the mountains, hills, and everywhere—not only that Christ is born, but that Christ, the Son of David, is Lord! Even in the upheaval, even as God uproots sin through his judgment, there is hope—for he keeps every single promise.