In Jeremiah 22, God sends the prophet to deliver His truth to the people of Judah and their king. It’s really a pretty simple proposition:
- “if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people
- if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation”
The direction is plain. Obey, and things go well. Disobey, and things go very poorly. In fact, disobedience brings destruction and desolation. Some pretty strong words. It should make the choice pretty simple. But as humans we seem to struggle to obey. We want to do things our way.
So Jeremiah gives a little more color commentary as to what disobedience will look like: “surely I will make you a desert, an uninhabited city”. Don’t think for a minute that God wants this outcome. He loves His people then, and loves us now. He doesn’t get joy in seeing us endure pain and suffering, but His nature doesn’t allow Him to ignore our choice to sin. He can’t just look the other way. And when His people choose to worship another god, that’s about as disobedient as you can get. So the punishment comes out, strong and pointed.
God gives ample time for the people to get right with Him. He has Jeremiah make clear again why their future looks so bleak. It is “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them”. This is not something God caused. This was coming because of the sinful choices that people have made. They pushed God off the throne and put another god, Baal, in His place. It is sin, deliberate and specifically chosen, and it will bring a response. It has to because of who God is and how His nature is.
Coniah was son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and in line for the throne of Judah. But God makes it very clear that isn’t happening. “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah”. The sin of his father and the people have sealed his future and it won’t be following his father as king. God has had enough of these people and their leaders, and is taking his people a different way. Sin carries a price. And the people here are paying it!