The day finally came. The prophecies of the Book of Jeremiah had been driving to this point. The year-and-a-half siege that began in the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah (Jer. 39:1; 52:4; 2 Ki. 25:1), yet had a brief intermission as Babylon temporarily withdrew to deal with an Egyptian threat, finally penetrated the city walls in the eleventh year and fourth month (Jer. 39:2; Jer. 52:6,7; 2 Ki. 25:3,4). It was the unthinkable; even though it should have been the foreseeable. Jeremiah predicted the coming of the Babylonian sword, starvation, and captivity (Jer. 15:2); he predicted that the siege would so disrupt the city’s food supply that cannibalism would occur (19:9); he predicted that staying in the city would lead to death but that surrendering would lead to life (21:9); and he predicted that the land would be a desolation and a horror, in servitude to Babylon for seventy years (25:11). And it all happened just as God had spoken through him.
It was a word that either came to Jeremiah in his sleep or brought him peace that prompted a measure of good sleep (Jer. 31:26) – tidings of comfort while on the verge of calamity. The Babylonian siege was reaching its end, which meant that so was the nation of Judah’s ability to sustain life and prevent invasion. And it was at that time, when the landscape of life looked bleak, and Babylonian forces were on the brink of besieging Jerusalem, that God spoke great promises of incredible hope. Such is why this portion of Jeremiah, particularly chapters 30 through 33, are known as the ‘Book of Consolation.’ So while there have been some portions in the previous chapters of Jeremiah that have communicated hope (i.e. Jer. 3:15-18; 23:5-6), what comes in these chapters is, if you will, a tidal wave of hope, with promises that would have both near and far fulfillments, promises of restoration spatially and regeneration spiritually.
We have a rare occasion here in Jeremiah 26. No, not Jeremiah being persecuted by the people of Judah. That has become standard fare. And no, it’s not the fact that Jeremiah was preaching a sermon in temple courts – we saw that in Jeremiah 7 (and this may be an amplified narrative of that event). Here we have an exceptional occurrence where the people and princes of Judah ‘go to bat’ on behalf of God’s prophet. In Israel’s history you can say that times like this came around ‘once in a blue moon,’ i.e. very rarely. Let’s create some context and then jump into our text.
Here’s a book title that you wouldn’t imagine being a best-seller – The Secret to Becoming Unprofitable. Although fallen man often exhibits a gnostic-like bent towards acquiring some kind of ‘secret’ knowledge that would put him or her ‘in the know,’ the aforementioned secret isn’t exactly one that people would be running to find out. If the title was The Secret to Becoming Profitable, well, that’s much more marketable. But when you think about it, isn’t it important for a person to know what exactly makes someone unprofitable, at least in the eyes of their creator? Wouldn’t knowing the answer to the former point us in the proper direction of the latter? From eternity’s vantage point, knowing how a person becomes unprofitable is invaluable. After all, in seeing mentalities and behaviors that are to be averted, we can also identify a mindset that we must embrace and a path that is to be pursued. Both sides of that coin are illustrated in the opening eleven verses of Jeremiah thirteen.