King Jehoiachin. Rev. J.S. van der Net - Jeremiah 22:30 (Advent)

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1 King Jehoiachin Rev. J.S. van der Net - Jeremiah 22:30 (Advent) Sing: Psalter 174 Read: Jeremiah 22 Sing: Psalter 422:7, 8 Sing: Psalter 3:3, 4 Sing: Psalter 306 Congregation, The Word of God that we would like to consider on this Advent Sunday can be found in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 22 verse 30. There we read God's Word and our text as follows: Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. These Words of Scripture draw our attention to King Jehoiachin. We will consider two main thoughts: 1. Rejected 2. Included 1. Rejected Congregation, it is already late in the evening. It is five minutes to twelve and night has almost come for the land of Judah. Thick darkness has fallen on the people. Soon the clock will strike twelve. Soon the Babylonian soldiers will ram the walls of Jerusalem to pieces and the people of Judah will be sent into captivity. In that dark judgment-impending evening, an evening full of chaos, Jehoiachin becomes king. Jehoiachin was still very young, only eighteen years old. And at the end of his reign he was still eighteen because he reigned only three months and eighteen days. For him also the night of captivity will soon arrive. Why is it so dark and gloomy in Judah? After the death of the God fearing King Josiah, the spiritual condition of the kingdom and the people took a quick downward spiral. Initially 1/12

2 it seemed as though Judah s spiritual condition would ultimately be restored under the reign of King Josiah. He was an upright king who feared the Lord, and implemented a religious reformation under his reign. As you know, the book of the law was found during the restoration of the temple. This triggered Josiah to purify the land of idolatry and to exhort his people to return to the service of the Lord. But suddenly the bad tidings came that king Josiah had been killed in the war against the Egyptians. He was only 39 years old. He could have meant so much for his people if he would have lived. After his death disaster was inevitable. The light that had begun to shine under Josiah's reformation was extinguished once more. Only one star was left shining, one star that radiated the light of the Word of God: the prophet Jeremiah. But no-one listened to the word spoken by Jeremiah. The people dimmed the light he shined in the darkness, for they preferred the darkness to the light. How did it come to this point? After King Josiah was killed, he was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz. But Jehoahaz was deposed after just three months by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Then his brother Jehoiakim was made king. Although he carried the title of king he did not have much power. He was no more than a puppet in the hands of the Pharaoh and later on also of Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years, and then he died. After that his son Jehoiachin reigned, who was king for just three months, after which King Nebuchadnezzar carried him captive to Babylon. Finally the last king of Judah seized the throne. This last king was Zedekiah, an uncle of Jehoiachin. The last years of the national existence of Judah were very dark years. The reason being that all its kings did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. They are recorded in God's Chronicles as evil-doers. King Jehoiachin is also recorded as an evil-doer. And because King Jehoiachin is recorded as one who did evil in the sight of the Lord, Jeremiah received the order to reject him. Of Jehoiachin Jeremiah says in verse 30: Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30). Jehoiachin and his offspring are rejected! They are rejected by God Himself! Jehoiachin will have no successor. David's monarchy will end with him and will sink away into the night 2/12

3 because he and his father and many other of his forefathers did evil in the sight of the Lord. Therefore they deserved God's double indignation. God performs the word He spoke to David concerning his posterity. We sang of it: But if his children e'er forsake my law appointed, And walk not in the ways decreed by Mine Anointed,... Then truly I will come in holy indignation, And chastise them with rods for all their provocation. (Psalter 422:7) The prophet Jeremiah is called to make this judgment clear to Jehoiachin. We have read this together. Jeremiah illustrates this with the image of a signet, a very valuable golden ring whose owner would treasure very much. "But", says Jeremiah to Jehoiachin, "even if you were a signet for the Lord, a valuable possession treasured by its owner, yet the Lord will tear the signet from off His hand and cast it away." Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were the signet..but Jehoiachin was not a signet. And even if he were, then the Lord would still tear him off! Yes, He would give him into the hand of them that were seeking his life, the hand of him whom Jehoiachin feared. Nebuchadnezzar was to take him prisoner. Jehoiachin was to be cast out, said Jeremiah, to a country where he was not born, but where he would die. That is Jeremiah's message and it hit Jerusalem like a bomb. It caused widespread consternation among the people. It was as though Jeremiah could hear the people asking: "But why? Why is this young king spoken to like this? Give him a chance! Why is such judgment passed on him? Is he a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Is he a useless pot or a worthless object which noone can use? Is king Jehoiachin worthless? Is he only fit to be cast out?" That was the reaction of the people of Judah. But with profound solemnity, Jeremiah answered with the Word of the Lord: O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah (Jeremiah 22:29,30). Indeed, Jehoiachin was useless to God and so he was told that he would be childless. Never would anybody from his posterity sit on David's throne to rule over Judah. Jehoiachin was completely rejected. God put an end to him. 3/12

4 And this was exactly what happened. Nebuchadnezzar came and took Jerusalem. Jehoiachin, his mother and many inhabitants of Judah were carried away captive to Babylon. Jehoiachin was locked up in a Bablyonian cell for 37 years. No, he was not succeeded by a son. Instead his uncle was appointed king by Nebuchadnezzar. The royal succession was broken and the house of David perished miserably in exile. Was Jehoiachin really a vessel wherein there was no pleasure, a useless object? Indeed, God had no pleasure in him. After all, did he not do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Jehoiakim had done? A king should be like a father to his own country. But there was no evidence of this, either with Jehoiachin or with his father. What was their aim in life then? To make a name for themselves in whatever way they could. Not in practicing justice, but in building beautiful palaces. That is why Jeremiah asked: "You want to reign? You are king? You, who have no other goal in life than to build beautiful houses? You, who forget your appointed task, and take no heed of the poor? You, who even go so far that you oppress the afflicted? Such a one may not be king any longer!" That is why God's punishment had come upon his father Jehoiakim. When he died, he was given the burial of a donkey and his son Jehoiachin, who followed in his father's steps was taken into captivity. Rejected. God no longer recognized him... God is not mocked. If all His warnings are thrown to the wind, and His calls to the conscience are discarded, then punishment will not be deferred. Surely, there is a living God Who passes judgment on this earth. Congregation, do you realize that this applies to us too? That this sinful Jehoiachin is perhaps closer to us than we think? For where sin is mentioned in this portion of Scripture, it is not only about the sins of Jehoiachin, but it also concerns our sins: my sins and your sins too boys and girls. We must be discovered to ourselves. The Word of God wants to teach us our iniquity. Our eyes must be opened to see who we are before God. Jehoiachin s sin is closer to us than we think. For what is pointed out as his special sin? We read that in verse 21: I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. That was Jehoiachin's great sin. We read of another of his great sins. In Jeremiah 13 Jehoiachin is admonished not only to hear, but also to give all honor to God. However, Jehoiachin neglected to do these two things: listen to God and honor Him. 4/12

5 Not listening means going your own way and acting as if God does not exist. Not honoring God means living just for yourself. Jehoiachin did not care about God, he was only focused on himself. Once again, the king's two main sins are not listening to and not honoring God. But is Jehoiachin the only one guilty of this evil? Should we not be honest and point to ourselves also? We are privileged to be able to be in church again where God speaks to us! God is calling us! The Lord appeals to all of us, without exception, through the preaching of the Law and the Gospel. But do we hear Him? Do we listen? Or do we close our ears? When the Lord calls us to repentance, do we react like Jehoiachin in verse 21: I will not hear! If the Lord commands to live according to His will, and to break with sin, do we then listen and obey? Do we act in accordance with His will? Or are we like King Jehoiachin? I will not hear! Do we ignore His Word? Congregation, ignoring His Word amounts to doing evil in the sight of the Lord. That is the sin of disobedience. Letting God talk, and meanwhile pretending to be deaf... The Lord had often set this sin before Israel, the sin of not listening, of ignoring His speaking. God had spoken so often, and for so long, but Israel did not hearken. God sent His prophets, but the people did not hear. Such is the constant, grave refrain we read in the books of the prophets. The Lord complained about them not listening, and the complaint became an accusation. The accusation was followed by a charge, and the charge became a verdict. "Therefore I, the Lord, will not hear thee in the day of trouble." Do we listen? Do we notice it if the Lord speaks, or do we simply carry on as usual and ignore His speaking? If we ignore Him then we are just like King Jehoiachin and we do evil in the sight of the Lord. It is not only the sin of not hearing. The king's second sin is: Not giving honor to God. How is this matter with you? Do you realize that our life is only meaningful if it is to God's honor? Calvin often stated: We do not live for all kinds of achievements, but we live to honor God. That is also why the Bible begins with the creation story. It must be clear right from the start Who God is and who we are. We must carefully observe these different positions. God is God, and we are humans. Creatures have no purpose in themselves, but only in their Creator. We are created for God s honor! Whoever has not learned to live according to this principle does that which is evil in the sight of the Lord! 5/12

6 What actually is sin? When do we sin? When do we do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord? It is when we, like King Jehoiachin, do not give glory to the Lord. It is when we withdraw from Him and we live only for ourselves. To be sure, everything can seem to be in perfect order on the outside, but really, our life is not good at all. No, we must give glory to the Lord alone. We must love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves. For God is a jealous God. He is jealous of His honor. Do you feel what is meant here? It is not only sinful deeds and sinful words which make us guilty. No, we are especially guilty if we do not hear God and if we refuse to give honor to Him. That is the evil that we do in the sight of the Lord. Congregation, picture Jehoiachin sitting there. The dark threat of judgment hangs over his head, as we read in verse 30, Write ye this man childless. This man will not prosper. That is the judgment with which God rejects him. God no longer even recognizes him. He casts him out because of his sin. He did not listen to God, nor did he honor Him, therefore the judgment rests upon him. That says something! Do you not see the same threat of judgment over your head? On account of the same sin of not listening to God and not giving Him the honor? Do you realize that you also deserve to be rejected? When we realize this our soul can be overcome with fear and terror! For who can say what it will be like if we are thrust out by God; if God abandons us? Let us lay it to heart and learn to give glory to the Lord. Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). It is still possible! There is still grace. For God is a wondrous God! We will see this in our second thought. First we will sing from Psalter 3 stanzas 3 and 4. This His word shall be made known This Jehovah's firm decree Thou art My beloved Son Yea, I have begotten Thee All the earth at Thy request I will give Thee for Thy own Then Thy might shall be confessed And Thy foes be over thrown 6/12

7 Then Thy might shall be confessed And Thy foes be over thrown and what follows in verse Included Congregation, again picture the rejected King Jehoiachin sitting in a prison cell in Babylon. He is there year in and year out for 37 years. He has given up all hope and considers his case to be a hopeless one. He will never return to his country and he can never hope for a change in his circumstances. After all, Jeremiah had prophesied that he would never return to his country of birth, that he would die in exile. What could he hope for now? And yet... unexpectedly the door of his cell is opened. The jailer came to free King Jehoiachin! He had a signed order of clemency from the king of Babylon with him, "We, Evilmerodach, king of Babylon, by the grace of Marduk - that is the god of Babylon - declare herewith that we grant clemency to Jehoiachin, formerly king of Judah." Jehoiachin was stunned by this message! He had not dared to hope for this! Little wonder then that he needed time to come to terms with this news. His captivity had suddenly come to an end. On the occasion of his ascension to the throne the new king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's successor, granted clemency to a number of political prisoners including King Jehoiachin. But it is not only that the prison door opened for Jehoiachin. No, Jehoiachin was also given an audience before the king of Babylon. Evil-merodach granted Jehoiachin an audience with him. And we read that he spoke kindly with Jehoiachin. He even gave him a place of honor. There were more conquered kings in Babylon, but from that moment Jehoiachin was the chief among them. His prison clothes were removed and he received new garments. And every day following Jehoiachin ate at the king's table. What an unexpected change in the life of this exiled king! Whoever could have imagined this? Not Jehoiachin in any case! Why such a change? Had Jehoiachin perhaps been converted in prison? Had he, after 37 years, seen and confessed his sins before God, just as 7/12

8 his step-great grandfather Manasseh did? We don't know. We read nothing in the Bible that tells us that this was the reason for the prison doors opening for Jehoiachin. However, we do read in the Holy Scriptures of another reason why such grace is shown to Jehoiachin. After all, did you not think when you listened to our first thought, Is the Lord not in conflict with His own promise? When Jeremiah was commanded by the Lord to tell Jehoiachin that none of his seed would sit on the throne of David, did the Lord then nullify His word of promise to David? Surely God swore to David that he would establish his seed forever, and that He would build David's throne forever. We sang of it: As long as heaven stands on pillars firm and sure, so long shall David's seed through endless years endure (Psalter 422). How can Jeremiah's announcement of judgment on Jehoiachin be reconciled with the promises made to David? For if Jehoiachin were to die childless, the house of David would perish. Surely that would render it impossible for the throne of David to continue for ever! How then would David's house fare, and how would David's throne continue? What about David's kingdom? And what about David's great Son? Then the Lord Jesus Christ would not be born. Then all advent hope would be cut off... Therefore, because of the promise that the Lord made to David centuries earlier, Jehoiachin is shown mercy by Evil-merodach in the thirty-seventh year of his captivity. God uses this Babylonian king for the execution of His plan of redemption. Jehoiachin MUST be freed. Despite his sins, Jehoiachin WILL be included in the ancestral line of the Lord Jesus. No, God's Word does not fall to the earth; He upholds His word of judgment: not one of Jehoiachin's sons will ever sit on the throne of Judah. But the promise made to David also remains true: his throne will be an everlasting throne. There will be an heir to the throne after all. This ultimate heir is David s great Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullness of time Jehoiachin's great Son will be born. That is why this rejected king is freed from prison. And although he was rejected, God will still include him. In Matthew 1 the genealogy of the Lord Jesus is recorded. There we read the names of David, Solomon, etc. and in verses 11 and 12 it is recorded that Josias begat a son with the name Jechonias. This Jechonias is another name for Jehoiachin. In the twelfth verse it is said of him that he begat another child after being brought into captivity in Babylon: Salathiel. And this Salathiel begat Zorobabel. And so, as Matthew 1 records, the family line continued until ultimately the Lord Jesus is born. 8/12

9 God's Word is being fulfilled and thus God's work continues. God's mercy is shown when the rejected Jehoiachin is included in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus. He too receives a place. He too, though he is like a vessel no one cares for, like a useless object. Jehoiachin is granted clemency for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ! Evil-merodach knew nothing of this. And possibly Jehoiachin had not thought about it either. Nevertheless, it is God's work. See how great the mercy of God is! So great is God's mercy, that He wanted to even include a man like Jehoiachin in the ancestral line of the Lord Jesus. Even a grave sinner like him who did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Even him who would not listen to God, who did not seek His honor. What a great mercy that the Lord Jesus was not ashamed of a forefather such as Jehoiachin. What a mercy that He was willing to be born out of Jehoiachin! No, it is not only sinful women who are among the ancestry of the Lord Jesus like Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba, but also sinful and corrupt forefathers. Also Jehoiachin! Consider the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! He was willing to humble Himself so deeply. He was willing to descend so deeply into sinful flesh. Here then is salvation for sinners! Christ came in the flesh. Yes, in the flesh! And He adopted the flesh of a deeply corrupted family. Now that He has come in this manner our hope may live once more. Since God is such a surprising God, we can take courage once more. Now the glad tidings sound once more in this world! These glad tidings are tidings which on the one hand condemn us. Tidings which tell us that we are sinners, because we do not listen to God nor do we honor Him. Tidings which lay bare our unrighteousness. Tidings which leave nothing of us. Tidings of our total rejection. We have no virtue before God, and we are of no use to Him. By nature we are a lost people. But let us now return to the history of Jehoiachin. Since someone like him ended up in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus, these tidings acquire another side besides the dark side. Ultimately a happy song of deliverance begins to rustle. Now there is hope after all for lost people. Now there is still salvation. Because there is One Who was willing to be counted as a lost one. That is the great Son of Jehoiachin, Who humbled Himself even unto death. He was willing to bow under the heaviest judgment. He gave Himself up under the heaviest discharge of the wrath of God. 9/12

10 That great Son of Jehoiachin is the perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself up to be a lost One, even from the very beginning, from His birth, because He did not come forth from holy, spotless, undefiled forefathers. For His sake, for Christ's sake, the rejected Jehoiachin was included after all. For His sake, for Jesus sake, lost sinners who are fit for nothing but to be cast out, are today included in God's mercy. Just read the history of Jehoiachin's exaltation by Evil-merodach in the light of this Gospel, in the light of Christ. Is this account not a sign of hope that Jesus Christ accepts sinners? God can only reject sinners because they have done that which is evil in His eyes. Yet, such sinners are freed from the captivity of their sins and guilt by the Lord Jesus Christ. He receives them to Himself and speaks kindly to them. He changes their prison garments, He gives them a place at His table and they eat with Him. And remember that the Pharisees accused Him, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them (Luke 15:2). That is indeed what He does! He does that so that even a stubborn generation, those who are always going against the grain, may live with Him. Thus the prodigal son returns home and is welcomed. Those whose obituary would read: "They did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord", are received by Jesus and invited to His table. God is a surprising God. The poor, the needy, the guilty ones, the lost... they are freed from prison, they are delivered out of the mire and placed next to princes and the mighty of the world. Who is so great a God as our God? (Psalm 77:13). Do you know something of this wonder of grace? Have you experienced this as a wonder? Do you live by this wonder? Because if God's Spirit works in us, He will teach us that we are sinners. It will become a reality in our lives that we do evil in the sight of God. We do not just commit sin, but we are sin. We will then understand what is signified by the Psalm: "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow" (Psalm 116:3). Then this prayer will be sent up to God: "Bring my soul out of prison" (Psalm 142:7). For we have brought ourselves to bondage by our sin. And we are unable to release the bonds in our own power. Only God can do that and thus we will begin to feel our need for the Lord. Then the humble prayer of supplication will be born: "O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob" (Psalm 84:8). Because: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Galatians 3:10). 10/12

11 Is there still hope? Yes, just consider Jehoiachin. Look, the prison doors are open. How is that possible? Because Jesus, the Anointed One, came to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. He proclaims mercy. He makes known the gift of free grace. He grants forgiveness. Forgiveness which is founded in the blood of Christ. Brought nigh to death, in Him I found salvation... (Psalter 426:4). The Lord Jesus Christ comes to captives, to those guilty of death. He delivers them. He removes their guilt. He receives them. He speaks kindly to them. He takes them to His sacrifice on the cross to show them that He has paid their debt. He gives them other raiment. He gives them the robe of righteousness and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. He gives them a place at His table. Time and again they may eat from the food that He has acquired for them. Do you know this wonder of free grace? Do you find life in this amazing gift of the Lord? An amazing gift for lost sinners, for those who have learned to loathe themselves, who have learned to accept God's verdict: I confess Thy judgment just (Psaler 140:2). But who also, to their amazement, have learned something of the incomprehensible wonder: God yet includes me! The Lord will then also confirm them and so it becomes true: When the Lord shall count the nations, Sons and daughters He shall see (Psalter 238:3). Congregation, lost sinners, children of wrath, and people who do evil in the sight of the Lord, are still received as children of Zion! Thus Jesus takes in sinners. Thus He receives sinners and eats with them. Are you included in that number? Amen. Concluding Psalter: Psalter 306 Verse 1 Praise God, ye servants of the Lord Praise, praise His Name with one accord Bless ye the Lord, His Name adore From this time forth for evermore From this time forth for evermore 11/12

12 Verse 2 From rising unto setting sun Praised be the Lord, the Mighty One He reigns o'er all, supreme in might Above the heav'ns in glory bright Above the heav'ns in glory bright Verse 3 On whom but God can we rely The Lord our God Who reigns on high Who condescends to see and know The things of heav'n and earth below The things of heav'n and earth below Verse 4 He lifts the poor and makes them great With joy He fills the desolate Praise ye the Lord and bless His Name His mercy and His might proclaim His mercy and His might proclaim 12/12

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