As we come to chapter 22, we are reminded that Jeremiah reaches back to the days of Josiah. Josiah became king of Judah about 640 BC. The book of Jeremiah ends nearly sixty years later. Josiah was succeeded by his son, Shallum (also known as Jehoahaz), but was deposed by the king of Egypt and carried away to that land where he died. Chapters 21 through 23, naming the kings during those sixty years, speaks directly to the failings of leadership among God’s people.
In chapter 21, the Babylonian hordes are at the gates of Jerusalem effecting a siege that will last for eighteen months. Though the enemy is at the gates in chapter 21, God demands that Zedekiah (Judah’s last king) give attention to the will of God, specifically, to establish calm, order and justice. That is the same expectation God voices in the following chapters for all leaders.
In times of pressure, as well as during days of power, humans are tempted to give way to more satanic influences – the temptation to be selfish, a “look out for yourself” attitude. It was certainly the way King Jehoiakim was ruling. But that’s not the way of God. Jehoiakim’s father Josiah could be content with what he had. Why would Jehoiakim, assuredly about to lose it all, be concerned with gathering more stuff and consolidating more power?
Jehoiakim was not an anomaly. We need to live our lives with such great reverence for the way of God that when days of trial come, we know where we are, whose we are, and where we are going. And even if we are going into captivity, we go with heads held high, still living as God would have us to live.