The Fall of Jerusalem
Open Your Bible
Jeremiah 52:1-34, 2 Kings 24:10-20, John 2:19-21
Growing up, our family had two favorite traditions on Friday nights: homemade tacos and movies. It was a celebratory way to signal the end of a work/school week with two things that we could all get behind, although agreeing on taco ingredients was far easier than agreeing on a film choice. One night, we chose How Green Was My Valley, based on the 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn.
We had absolutely zero context going into it. Spoiler alert: after spending two hours immersed in heartbreaking conflict, death, and thwarted love set in a grueling coal-mining village, we breathed a sigh of relief and pronounced it “the most depressing thing we’d ever seen.” The movie later became an inside joke in our family. Being more of the Singin’ in the Rain type, any time one of us would suggest another film showing, we’d shout from across the room, “As long as it’s not How Green Was My Valley, right?”
Whether or not our unprofessional critique was a fair and accurate depiction of the story, this is what much of the book of Jeremiah feels like. It’s a rough read. The fall of Jerusalem is the last account in our Lenten study before entering into Holy Week, and in it an army sieges the city, and people are slaughtered right and left. However, though destruction, exile, and death are emphasized themes, the book ends with Judah’s King Jehoiachin getting released from prison and re-established in the presence of the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 52:31–33). Whew! Yes! At last! After such a heartbreaking saga, we end with gestures of kindness and mercy. But is it enough?
Maybe it’s a bit of a leap, but we could say that Jeremiah’s conclusion foreshadows our knowledge this side of the cross that just when things look darkest, hope is on the move. God did not abandon His plan for redemption. Although Nebuzaradan burned the Lord’s temple (Jeremiah 52:13), Jeremiah and the people of Judah, Israel, and Babylon are just a few key players on a long timeline of history. Remember that God came as Jesus and allowed the temple of His own body to be destroyed so it could be raised and restored for our salvation (John 2:19–21).
Going into today’s reading with this knowledge frames the story in hope. Friends, as we finish Jeremiah’s story, let’s choose to find the incomparable hope nestled among the pages of its conclusion. Because, really, it’s only a temporary conclusion. Mercy is not forgotten. Jesus Christ came, and He is coming again.