CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 37.
We get another timeline reference at the beginning of this chapter, with the explanation that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon set up a king over Judah, and when that didn’t work Zedekiah was made king (verse 1). This was a deliverance from the Lord, that when Babylon invaded, the people finally turned to the Lord and so He helped them at least have their own government while in captivity. Except soon as they got what they wanted, they stopped listening to God again (verse 2).
But then, when they wanted help from God again, they tried reaching him through the prophet (verse 3). Jeremiah came to them to tell them what the Lord had told him (verse 4), which was that their political alliance with Egypt was going to fail (verse 5). Because the people backed out of their covenants with God, He would cause Egypt to back out of their alliance (verse 6).
The Lord said that when Egypt was on its way, and saw how destructive Babylon had been, they would change their minds and go back to their own land (verse 7). Then the Chaldeans would be free to conquer the city (verse 8). The Lord warned them not to think the Chaldeans would just go away because they would not (verse 9). The Lord said that the progress they made when they called on Him to help would not be enough, because now they have changed their minds and He cannot help when they don’t want His help (verse 10).
This is exactly what happened. The Chaldeans started to panic and back off when they saw the Egyptian army on its way (verse 11), but then the Egyptian army disengaged and went back home. The Chaldeans were now free to conquer Jerusalem.
Jeremiah left Jerusalem because he knew what was coming (verse 12). On his way out of town, he was arrested by a guard who thought he was defecting to the Chaldeans (verse 13), even though Jeremiah denied it (verse 14). They threw him in the dungeon (verse 15) and left him there many days (verse 16).
King Zedekiah finally brought him out to ask him what the Lord had said recently, and Jeremiah confirmed that “thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon” (verse 17). Jeremiah then asked what he had done to offend the king to cause himself to be thrown into prison (verse 18), and confronted the king for listening to false prophets who said Babylon would not come against Jerusalem (verse 19). Then Jeremiah begged the king not to put him back in prison (verse 20), but the king did send him back to prison – but with the promise of “a daily piece of bread… until all the bread in the city was spent” (verse 21).