Jeremiah 30-52 opens and closes on a positive note but in between it delineates the events that led to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, the darkest day in Judah’s history up to that point. Jeremiah lives through the fulfillment of the very prophecies of judgment he preached. What these chapters make clear though is that God's judgment of Judah is discipline, not destruction (30:11; 46:28).
Jeremiah 30-33 is called the Book of Comfort and is one of the most encouraging of all the sections in Jeremiah. For once in these chapters, Jeremiah’s messages of coming restoration and blessing outnumber his words of judgment. The New Covenant prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is extremely significant and is the longest Old Testament passage quoted in the New Testament. In this prophecy, God promises to make a new covenant with Israel and Judah that will replace the Mosaic Covenant and will create the personal relationship with His people He has desired since the day He made a covenant with Abraham. I will be your God, and you will be My people (31:33; see also 31:1; 32:38; Gen. 17:7). God’s promise that fields in Judah will be bought and sold again, even after the great disaster He is about to bring upon His people, testifies to His omnipotence (32:17, 27). The prophecy of the Davidic Branch is restated in Jeremiah 33:14-17. In fact, the name David occurs twenty-two times in Jeremiah, equally divided between Jeremiah 1-29 and Jeremiah 30-52, more times than in any other Old Testament prophetic book. Jeremiah 34-36 clusters stories from the days of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah to show how Judah persists in disobeying the Lord. Jehoiakim’s burning the scroll of Jeremiah cannot stop God’s words through Jeremiah from coming to pass (36:19-32).
Jeremiah 37-45 describes Jerusalem and Judah in their final dark days. Zedekiah is a weak leader who wants to hear what Jeremiah has to say but will not obey it. He will not even speak up on behalf of Jeremiah because he is so afraid of his own subjects. Zedekiah’s noncompliance forfeits Jerusalem’s last opportunity to avoid being burned (38:17). In Jeremiah 39, Jerusalem falls and Zedekiah is captured in mid-flight. He is taken to Nebuchadnezzar who kills all his sons and carts him off to Babylon.
But even with the fall of Jerusalem, the final episode in Judah’s waywardness is not yet written. A man named Ishmael kills Gedaliah, the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to oversee Judah for him. Mayhem ensues. The remnant that still remains in Judah runs to Jeremiah for direction from the Lord, feigning obedience but having already decided to escape to Egypt (41:17-18). When the Lord’s directive is for the remnant to stay in the land of Judah and trust Him for their safekeeping against Nebuchadnezzar (whose governor had been assassinated), the people show their true colors, falsely criticize Baruch, set off for Egypt, and haul Jeremiah along with them for good measure. Jeremiah 44 reveals that even the horrific months through which they have just passed have not shaken loose idolatry’s hold on them. Grind a fool in a mortar but it will not remove his foolishness from him (Prov. 27:22).
In Jeremiah 46-51, poetic oracles announce God’s judgments against various nations. Look for the thrice repeated reference to Yahweh as “the King” (46:18; 48:15; 51:57). He is King and His jurisdiction is the whole earth. When He wills the demise of the nations, they fall. When He wills their restoration—as He does in the case of Moab, Ammon, and Elam—they rise again. “Who is the shepherd able to stand against me” (49:19; 50:44)? Particularly long are the two oracles of judgment against Babylon, who is occasionally referred to under her code name Leb-qamai (51:1) and Sheshach (51:41). Babylon’s fall is Zion’s vindication (51:5, 10-11, 36, 56).
Jeremiah 52 is an appendix that summarizes all the trouble Jerusalem brought on herself. Verse 3 says it all: God got so fed up with Jerusalem and Judah’s sin that He cast them out of His presence.
The book of Jeremiah ends on a positive note, however, by recording the exaltation of Jehoiachin after 37 years in exile in Babylon (52:31-34). Jehoaichin’s change of fortune hints at God’s future plans for His people. The terrible demise of Judah and Jerusalem was deserved punishment for repeated rebellion but it is not the final chapter in their history. God will work through David’s line to bring a Deliverer (that Righteous “Branch” mentioned in earlier chapters) who will make them the righteousness and the light to other nations He intended them to be from the very beginning of His covenant dealings with them. But all of that lies in the distant future.