Jeremiah Index

Jeremiah Chapter 38


  • Jeremiah 38:1 Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying,
  • 2 Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.
  • 3 Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.
  • 4 Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.

The princes desire for the king to put Jeremiah to death for his words. They accused Jeremiah of making the people weak by telling them to surrender to the Chaldeans and live.

Ordinarily this may have been true in other circumstances. We would never encourage anyone to surrender and give up to the enemy.

There was a time when the children of Israel was ready to go into the promise land. Spies were sent in to spy out the land. All the spies came back full of fear and reported that giants were in the land and that they could not overcome them. Two men, Joshua and Caleb had faith in God and believed with God's help they could overcome the giants. As a result of the unbelief of the other 10 spies which stirred up the majority of the people, God forbid the people from entering the land except those under 20, Joshua (I assume their families also) and Caleb.

The children of Israel had to wonder in the wilderness for another 40 years until the older people died off. Unbelief was the sin that kept most out of the promise land.

Even though in this instance it would seem as if Jeremiah was wrong to encourage people to surrender rather than fight, Jeremiah was not wrong. He was aware of the will of God in the matter. He knew that in this instance the Babylonian siege was judgment from God and they were not supposed to resist His will. In this case unbelief was also the sin of the people. They did not believe the word of God given by Jeremiah.

The biggest hindrance to salvation is unbelief. Many don't believe that repentance from sin is needed. Those in Jeremiah's day did not believe that God was going to judge their sin. We live in a world like that today. What the bible says is sin, the world ignores. As a result, disease prevails, families are torn apart and immorality is running rampant. Many are warning that America as we know it may not be around much longer.

In Joshua's case, God could have and would have enabled them to defeat the greatest giants, in Jeremiah's day they would not have been able to defeat the Babylonians because God would not have been with them. This shows us that Israel at no time is able to defeat the enemy unless God is with them.

  • Jeremiah 38:5 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.

The king also was troubled by things Jeremiah spoke and allowed the princes to do with Jeremiah what they desired to do.

Had they not felt threatened by the words of Jeremiah, they would have laughed it off and ignored it. Deep down they feared he might be right and reacted with anger instead of accepting it. This is a common reaction to God's word. When we resist the word of God it causes us to be angry and even hate those that bring that word.

Remember what happened to Jesus Christ. He was crucified by angry men. He was not put to death because He committed any crime worthy of death. He did nothing evil. Had Jeremiah been a false prophet they would not have been bothered by his words. They were resisting the truth and were resisting God.

So we see that in this case it would not have been wrong to surrender to the Babylonians because that was the word of God instructing them to do so to save lives. They could not defeat the Babylonians strength without God's help and God was not going to help them this time. He was trying to get them to recognize that they had sinned and did not repent so that is why God allowed this to come upon them.

  • Jeremiah 38:6 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.

How sad that this man was treated so badly when all he desired to do was save lives. In the beginning he tried in vain to get people to repent and turn to God so that God would not allow Judah to be invaded by Babylon. They would not listen then and when the Babylonian armies started to come, they would not even listen to Jeremiah's advice on how to keep from being killed by the Babylonians.

The princes who did this to Jeremiah must have been crazy if they thought silencing Jeremiah would stop the siege of Babylon.

We see this same thing in today's world. Many desire to silence the word of God from being preached especially in public. Many have desired that for centuries. Russia at one time forbade this in their country. Yet I wonder what they must have been thinking. Stopping the preaching of the word of God will not stop God's word from being true.

If every bible in the world was destroyed, that would not destroy the word of God from being true and coming to pass. Silencing those who preach will not change anything.

You can't stop Jesus from returning by stopping preachers from preaching about it. You can't stop souls from dying and going to hell by forbidding preachers from preaching about it. You can't change the word of God by forbidding it's teaching. Every prophecy in the bible will come to pass and nothing any man, women or child can do will stop it.

It doesn't matter what our modern news media or commentators say, they can't change God or His word. It doesn't matter what our highest educated professors teach, they can't change what is to happen and they can't change the word of God.

We can't make it go away. God's word is His word and it will come to pass. If I say that you must be born again to be saved from the wrath to come, you might get mad but that will not change the fact. If I say that the only way of salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, getting angry at me will not change that fact. If I say that God commands men everywhere to repent of sin, then getting mad at me will not change that fact either.

Silencing every preacher, teacher and speaker from preaching God's word will not change anything. It is still true and the prophecies will come to pass. Putting Jeremiah in a dungeon did not change anything in Jeremiah's time. It did not stop the Babylonians from coming. It did not stop the word of God from coming to pass. We protest in vain.

  • Jeremiah 38:7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;
  • 8 Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king, saying,

Here is a brave soul who risked his own neck to save Jeremiah. We need more like him today.

  • Jeremiah 38:9 My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.
  • 10 Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.

I think this poor king was very unstable. Sometimes he would seek Jeremiah's advice and sometimes he would get angry and want him silenced. He was not what we would call a stable person. Lets hope we never get a president like that.

  • Jeremiah 38:11 So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.
  • 12 And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.

Ebedmelech was probably rewarded in heaven for this deed.

  • Matthew 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
  • 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

If you are kind to one who brings the true word of God, you will be rewarded.

Another place Jesus says:

  • Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 
  • 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 
  • 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 
  • 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
  • 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 
  • 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 
  • 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 
  • 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 
  • 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 
  • 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 
  • 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 
  • 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 
  • 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

I believe the food and water mentioned in Matthew 25:35 may refer to physical hunger as well as spiritual hunger for the word. I believe that the references to prisons in Matthew 25:39 refer to real prisons as well as the prison and bondage of sin which is a prison. 

  • Jeremiah 38:13 So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
  • 14 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me.
  • 15 Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

Jeremiah at this point realizes that the king was not to be trusted and probably wonders why the king even bothers to ask his counsel seeing that he doesn't heed the word of God when it is given.

  • Jeremiah 38:16 So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.
  • 17 Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house:
  • 18 But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.
  • 19 And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.

He feared being mocked and ridiculed more that fearing God's word.

  • Jeremiah 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.
  • 21 But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD hath shewed me:
  • 22 And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.
  • 23 So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.
  • 24 Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die.
  • 25 But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee:
  • 26 Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there.
  • 27 Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.
  • 28 So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.

The king feared people more than God. He had the "What would people think if I did that," attitude.

This is what we may face if we accept Jesus Christ into our lives. Yet, our eternal salvation may depend on obeying God rather than men. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 
  • 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

If you care more for what your friends think than what God thinks you are not worthy of Jesus Christ.

Peter had to make that decision twice. The first time he made the wrong decision and fearing men, he denied knowing Jesus Christ. Peter though was given a second chance and repented of this. The next time he was faced with choosing God or men was after Pentecost when he was forbidden to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He answered them with these words:

  • Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 
  • 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 
  • 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 
  • 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

This angered the men who were listening and they wanted to kill the apostles. They wanted to stop the word of God by killing those who preached it.

Nothing can stop the word of God, nothing can stop the word of God from coming to pass. Teaching evolution will not stop the Creation teaching from being the truth. Forbidding the gospel will not stop it from being true. All those who try to stop God's servants will only incur the wrath of God on themselves, it will not stop the word of God from being real and its prophecies from coming to pass. The Atheists cannot stop God from existing. God is real folks and no one's unbelief can change that.

Dorna Chambers

Jeremiah 39