2 Chronicles 36:10-14; 2 Kings 24:10-20; & 1 Chronicles 3:10-16
The history books get back to the narrative. Babylon has not yet been punished; the future that Jeremiah just laid out was still to come. In the present, Jehoiachin has been replaced by Zedekiah, the last king of Judah (although, of course, he doesn’t know that).
2 Chron 36:13 | Among the sins counted against Zedekiah is that he rebelled against Ned. This seems odd because Ned was an outside (sinful) conqueror, and rebelling would seem like service to God’s people. The reason it’s counted as a sin starts, first, with the fact that Ned’s arrival was foretold by Jeremiah as part of divine punishment. The rebellion, therefore, means that Zedekiah had either not paid attention to the word of God and was acting on his own, or that he had paid attention but had not submitted to God’s punishment. While Ned is certainly not God, rebelling against him in this instance is essentially rebelling against God and fighting against His expressed will. Secondly, it gets back to that issue of submitting to temporal authorities.
At some point, a conqueror becomes not an enemy you resist but a ruler you honor. This ends up being the foundation of the “might makes right” philosophy, for better or worse. By this I mean that, under this line of thinking, God’s will is determined by fiat, by what happens. Because God’s will is sovereign, nothing can occur that is not His will. Therefore, everything that is, is by virtue of it’s being God’s will. Bringing it back to the notion of conquerors and rulers, anyone who attains power must be appointed by God, and therefore must be accepted. The crucial point, then, becomes determining when someone goes from enemy to ruler. Up until what point was Ned a threat to Judah whom one can oppose as a part of loyalty to one’s people, and when did he become the divinely appointed ruler of Judah to whom submission is expected?
This may all be getting twisted and far from the point. I still see the logic in this progression, but I recognize that that logic becomes tautological and self-contained. That’s the danger of deterministic overemphasis on God’s will to the exclusion of human autonomy. I don’t know how to square this circle, but it’s a useful illustration of the macro issue that I’m wrestling with.
2 Chron 36:15 | Jeremiah here makes an interesting point about the many scolding prophets that the Jews have received. He notes these prophets as examples of God’s compassion for His people. It’s counter-intuitive to think of these men who rant and condemn as being emissaries of compassion, but that’s a modern bias, I think. They display God’s compassion, first, because they try to alert the Jews to their sin so that they can spend more time with God and less time rebelling against Him (and so they can avoid the harsh punishment that will come if they continue to disobey), and second, because every prophet represents a delay in judgment. Every time God sent a prophet to Israel/Judah, He chose to try to reach them one more time before unleashing His wrath, to try to give them one more chance to consult their consciences and place themselves within God’s commands and mercy.