II Kin. 24:5-17; II Chron. 36:8-10; Jer. 22:18-30; 13:15-27; 24:1-10
Jehoiakim’s death ended an evil reign in Judah. It is customary to lament and mourn for even a wicked one who has passed from this life. However, Jehoiakim’s wickedness was so great that the Lord forbade lamenting for him. He was also denied what would be considered a proper burial—only to be, “Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
One would hope that with a new king there would be improved spiritual changes. However, Jehoiachin, the eighteen-year-old son of Jehoiakim continued in the evil ways of his father. Judah’s chief ally, Egypt had fallen to the Babylonians and they refused to hear the Lord, their only hope for salvation. God spoke to Jeremiah regarding the new king that he and his mother would be cast out of the land and into a country where he had not been born. He would have no child to succeed him on the throne of David. His reign only lasted for three months and ten days.
Jeremiah continued to warn the heads of the Judean government, but because of their pride, his words fell upon deaf ears. They had the power and authority to lead their people back to God, but refused to accept that responsibility. The cities of the south would be carried away into captivity by the cities of the north. Even in their deep sinful state, God would have still made them clean if they would have turned back to Him in sincere repentance.
The prophecies of Jeremiah did not all come to pass at the same time. Judah had previously suffered defeats and was in a weakened condition as the teenaged king ascended to the throne. After only about fifteen weeks, Nebuchadnezzar’s people stormed Jerusalem and King Jehoiachin and his household surrendered and were taken captive to Babylon. Ten thousand of the most valiant and able-bodied men were also carried away leaving only the poorest people of the land. The temple and the king’s house were looted of their treasures. With Jerusalem under his control, Nebuchadnezzar made Mattaniah, an uncle of Jehoiachin and another of Josiah’s sons his puppet king. In a show of his authority the Babylonian king changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah.
Sometime after Jehoiachin had been carried away from Jerusalem and Zedekiah had been made king of Judah, Jeremiah saw a vision of two baskets of figs set in front of the temple. The Lord explained that the one basket of good figs represented a part of Judah who would turn to God and eventually return to their homeland. They were the ones who had just been captured and would be protected from the final siege of the land. The other basket contained bad figs which represented Zedekiah and the people who had remained in the city and would continue refusing to return to God. They would suffer that final calamity along with a future of sword, famine and pestilence until they had been destroyed. The coming of Christ would eventually spring from those represented by the good basket of figs.