There is a change in Jeremiah’s prophecies, which becomes apparent in today’s reading. Up until now, God has been exhorting Judah to repent of her sins and return to Him to avert the disaster and judgment which would come upon Judah and Jerusalem if they did not. Beginning with today’s reading, however, there is no more talk of repentance and return — only the description of the judgment which is coming.
This is the gospel of grace. It is fact that the Door to heaven, Jesus the Messiah, is standing open (Rev 4:1), and mercy and grace is being poured out; but the day is coming when the door will be shut. Now is the time of repentance and return; today is the day of salvation. Warning, warning! Do not harden your heart as the men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem did, past the point of no return. Repent today, return today! Yield today to the Word of the LORD, the living Word, Jesus Christ, and receive His grace, the forgiveness of sins, and the free gift of salvation! Yield today to the written Word, the Torah, and order our lives to obey God’s commandments, as an outward expression of the inward faith we now have in Jesus! We do not know what day we will wake up and we will have passed the point of no return, that there is nothing left but judgment poured out on the Law- less and all who offend (Mat 13:41-42).
In Jer 22 the LORD addresses Josiah’s grandson who is now king of Judah. This is what has transpired in Judah since the death of Josiah at the hands of Pharaoh Necho, while on his way to war with the Babylonian general Nebuchadnezzar:
When Josiah was killed, the people quickly placed his son Jehoahaz on the throne, for fear that Pharaoh would invade their country in the absence of a king. This king served all the idols which his father had pulled down, which called forth Jeremiah’s entreaties to return to the LORD that we have been reading
When the people did not repent, Jeremiah foretold that Jehoahaz would be taken captive (Jer 22:11-12), and that the city and Temple would be destroyed at the hands of the Babylonians. This prophecy made the king so angry, that he had Jeremiah arrested and put into prison. The prophet was released, however, when the judges ruled that a prophet of the LORD had the right to say anything he wished without retaliation.
It was not long before Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled. The Egyptians, angry that Judah had interfered in its war with Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, removed Jehoahaz from being king, and placed his brother Jehoiakim on the throne in his place (610 bc). Pharaoh took Jehoahaz in chains to Egypt, where he remained in prison until he died.
The new king also did evil, and refused to repent at the preaching of Jeremiah. He was the king who had so much disdain for the word of the LORD, that when hearing the words of the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies, cut them off and burned them in the fire until the whole scroll was consumed (Jer 36). By this time the Babylonians had fought and defeated the Egyptians, and marching into Judah, they now laid siege to Jerusalem and took the city after a short resistance. Nebuchadnezzar was still general, and not king yet at this epoch. Jehoiakim was allowed to keep the throne on the condition that he would be the vassal of Babylon.
But Jehoiakim soon made a fresh alliance with Egypt, and revolted against Nebuchadnezzar, who by this time had become the king of Babylon upon the death of his father (605 bc). As the new king, he was busy just then with another war, and so paid no heed at first to this uprising.
When the war was ended, however, he marched against Jerusalem and put Jehoiakim to death in the way that Jeremiah had foretold (Jer 22:18-19, 599 bc). He installed his son Jeconiah as king of Judah with the promise that he would be vassal to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar again departed Jerusalem without destroying the city — for the second time. Jeconiah was only eight years old when he began to reign, and as his courtiers and advisers were neither good nor wise, the king continued in the evil way of his father, and this was the state of affairs when Jeremiah prophesied that Jeconiah would die a captive in another land not his own (Jer 22:26-27).