II Kin. 24:18, 19; II Chron. 36:11, 12; Jer. 52:1, 2; 27:1-22
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king of Judah. His eleven year reign was wicked like that of his father and other ancestors. He also ignored Jeremiah’s prophecies.
The Lord commanded Jeremiah to construct yokes that represented bondage and take them to the kings of Judah and her neighbors. They signified their upcoming captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. Because of their evil ways, God was punishing them by allowing Babylon to control them for a period of time. At the end of that time, Babylon would be defeated and serve others. God does not allow sin to be unpunished. He used the wicked Babylonians to punish those nations, but Babylon’s punishment was also inevitable. Jesus died on the cross as punishment for our sins if we will accept him in faith and obedience.
There have always been scoffers and naysayers who refuse to accept the word of the Lord. Jeremiah spoke out against those false prophets in Judah who said, “You shall not serve the king of Babylon.” Judah’s captivity had been promised, but their neighboring nations, who would surrender to Babylon, would be permitted to remain in their land, “and they shall till it and dwell in it.”
Jeremiah went to King Zedekiah and seemingly on bent knees pleaded with the king to listen to the words of God instead of those false prophets. He urged the king to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and live. “Why will you die, you and your people…Therefore, do not listen to the words…for they prophesy a lie to you…” The prophet also repeated his plea to the priests and the people.
Vessels of worship that had been taken from the earlier raid by Babylon would soon be returned, according to the false prophets. Jeremiah stated that would not happen, but also the remaining vessels and other treasures would be taken if the king did not surrender.