Jeremiah’s Ending Doesn’t Fit

by Perry Hall

If you read the ending of Jeremiah, it doesn't fit. The actual ending should be Jeremiah 52:30, which fittingly records how many Jews were taken into captivity. That verse completes a beginning where Jeremiah is called to prophesy the coming doom and closes a section describing Nebuchadezzar's conquering, destruction, exportation, and vicarious punishment of the Southern Kingdom. Jeremiah 52:30 fits. Jeremiah 53:31-34 is out of place.

In this odd closing. Jehoichin, one of the kings whose wickedness caused God's people to be exiled, is once again mentioned. But his wicked deeds are not the topic. Instead, the king of Babylon pardons him.

This pardon changes Jehoiachin's status and relationship. He is spoken kindly to, seated upon a throne, given new clothes, regularly dines in the presence of Babylon's king, and given an allowance — all this until he dies.

This doesn't fit. Jehoiachin is responsible for Judah's captivity.

However, it does fit when we remember that Jeremiah is not just a book, nor the only book in the Bible. It is part of a bigger collection of books and a greater story. Jehoiachin foreshadows the Jews' coming home. But it gets grander. Jehoiachin foreshadows the new covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31.

This odd ending, which doesn't seem to fit, fits perfectly when we understand that the ending God wants for His people is not punishment. Our ending allows for new clothes (Galatians 3:28), which we put on to dine with the King of kings in the Lord's supper (I Corinthians 11). That odd ending is odd except for one word. Jehoiachin oddly, undeservedly, and unexpectedly represents grace!

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