I received the following question:

We were in study with Jeremiah 7 and it seemed like it would have been in the latter days of Jeremiah’s prophecy because of the people not even being prayed for because they would not listen. However, then at the end there is the passage about the valley of Ben Hinnom becoming the valley of Slaughter. Was that not fulfilled in Josiah’s day? Therefore, the chapter would be before Josiah’s reforms. That cannot be. So what is the other answer?

This passage was before Josiah’s reforms. Consider when Jeremiah began his prophesying, according to Jeremiah 1:1-2.

1. The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2. to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

So Jeremiah received his message from the LORD first in the thirteenth year of Josiah. Compare this to II Chronicles 34:3 of Josiah.

3. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.

So Josiah’s reforms began in the twelfth year of his reign (when he was 20 years old.) Then consider II Chronicles 34:8.

8. In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.

So Josiah’s reforms were not complete until his eighteenth year, and it was then that he made the people enter a covenant to serve the Lord alone. In the thirteenth year of Josiah, his reforms were only just getting going, and apparently they had not affected the Valley of the Son of Hinnom yet, as is implied in verse 31.

The part about not praying for that people was true. The hubris of Manasseh and the vile things he did had corrupted the people to such an extent that they no longer deserved blessing from God. The fact that a Josiah reigned after that, and that his reign brought peace and prosperity for a time, was a definite act of God’s grace, and an example of the difference that one Godly man can make for an entire nation. The people did not deserve it, for they were very wicked. Josiah’s reforms touched the hearts of some of the people of Judah, and this allayed the punishment for a time. However, it is clear that most of the people only served the LORD because of Josiah, and because they saw that was the way the wind was blowing. When his wicked son Jehoiakim took the throne, he quickly undid everything Josiah had done, and the majority of the people went happily along with it, right back to the wickedness they had been doing before. The fact that Josiah’s reforms touched the hearts of anyone shows the power of God to turn around even the worst of situations. But that turn around did not last.

The burying in Tophet was not fulfilled in Josiah’s day. Josiah defiled that valley, and made it into a garbage dump and a place for disposing of dead bodies. Yet it was not until later that Tophet became a place of mass graves, probably when Babylon came and slaughtered the people of Jerusalem.