Jeremiah 28 Commentary

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: There’s a man named Rob Bell. He’s the former pastor of a church in Grandville, Michigan called Mars Hill Bible Church. A few years ago, this man wrote a book called “Love Wins.” The book made quite a stir because in effect it taught Universalism. Universalism is the doctrine that all people eventually end up in heaven with God. It’s a doctrine that flatly denies the existence of an eternal hell where sinners are punished forever.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Hell is Hard to Accept But Biblical

The doctrine of hell is obviously one of the most sobering realities ever taught in Scripture. It might be one of the most difficult to accept. And yet it’s a reality that Jesus taught multiple times. It – and the sin that leads a person to this place – is what Jesus came to save his people from.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Rob Bell is a False Prophet

So, hell is a thoroughly biblical reality. And so, when a man like Rob Bell comes out with a book and makes national news for denying the existence of hell, this makes him a false prophet. He is proclaiming a message on behalf of God – and in that sense he’s a prophet. But his message is not according to the Scripture. And therefore, his prophecies are false.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Getting There

Jeremiah 28 records a run-in between the prophet Jeremiah and a false prophet named Hananiah.

But before we get into Jeremiah 28, let’s recover the context of this chapter. In Jeremiah 27 we saw God giving a message to Jeremiah for all the people. And as is so often the case, God gave Jeremiah something physical to do to proclaim that message. Do you remember what physical device God had Jeremiah make to communicate his message?

Yeah, it was a yoke and bonds. A yoke of course would be used to bring animals under the control of the owner of that animal. And similar to that, God was putting a metaphorical yoke on the shoulders of the nations. And even though it was God putting the yoke on, he was delegating his authority to a particular nation to rule over those other nations. Who was that? Babylon.

And so, God told Jeremiah to wear that yoke himself and to also send some yokes to the surrounding nations. And along with the yoke, and the message, the Lord also emphasized through Jeremiah that the kings of the nations needed to not listen to false prophets who were directly contradicting that very message. These false prophets were proclaiming in the name of God the very opposite of what the true God was proclaiming. And so, everyone should just ignore them and not take any action on what they proclaim.

And so now in Jeremiah 28 we see the reaction of one of those false prophets to that message of submission to Babylon. The false prophet’s name is Hananiah. And he’s got a different message to preach.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Setting the Scene

So, Jeremiah 28:1 sets the scene for what we’re about to see for the rest of the chapter.

When

First, we’re told when the following events happened.

KJV Jeremiah 28:1 ¶ And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month,

So, we’re in the first half of the reign of Zedekiah. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. He reigned for 11 years. And this is the 4th year and 5th month of his reign, which makes it apparently the “beginning” of that reign in the sense that it was the first half of the reign.

Now, pay attention especially to the month reference. We’re right now at the beginning of the events related here in the 5th month. We’ll get another month reference at the end of Jeremiah 28 that we’ll need to compare to this month to get the total significance of the matter.

What

So, we’ve seen the “when” – “when did this happen?” And now, to end Jeremiah 28:1 we have the “what”. What happened?

that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying,

Gibeon was a city given to the Levites in the territory of Benjamin. What I found interesting in m studying of Gibeon is that the tabernacle was kept there even after the Ark of the Covenant was moved to Jerusalem. The tabernacle was kept on a high place there where there was probably unorthodox worship going on in conjunction with the Ark itself. So, that’s where Hananiah haled from.

Hananiah was the son of Azur. There’s an Azur mentioned in the book of Ezekiel. And there, that man is portrayed as one who is giving a false message to the people of Jerusalem. So, it could be that the Azur of Ezekiel is the same Azur here. In which case, both father and son are engaged in false prophecy.

Well, Hananiah is a false prophet. But you don’t see the word “false” in this passage. In fact, you don’t see that term “false prophet” anywhere in the Old Testament. He’s just a prophet. And we’ll have to know him by his fruits. So, let’s see what this prophet has to say and whether it accords with God’s word.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Hananiah’s Message

Hananiah’s original proclamation takes up Jeremiah 28:2-4. He starts…

2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying,

“I broke the yoke”

So, speaking on behalf of the Lord, Hananiah claims the following…

I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.

“I’ll bring back the Temple vessels”

And as a result of supposedly breaking the yoke of the king of Babylon, the Lord would bring the Temple vessels back to Jerusalem…

3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:

“I’ll bring back the exiled king”

And not only that, but the Lord supposedly would be bringing back the exiled king Jeconiah…

4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon,

saith the LORD:

“I will break the yoke”

And Hananiah’s message ends with a repeated assertion that God has broken the yoke of Babylon…

for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Summary of Hananiah’s Message

So, that’s the message of Hananiah, supposedly on behalf of the Lord. In summary: God broke the yoke of Babylon, God will bring the Temple vessels and the exile king back, and God broke the yoke of Babylon.

This no doubt would have been a very welcomed message to the people of Judah. Jeremiah’s message had been very heavy and negative and filled with disaster and punishment for the people’s sins. But this message was upbeat and positive and optimistic. What’s best – no doubt in the eyes of most of the Jews of that day – Hananiah’s message involved success and blessing for the people while at the same time completely leaving out any call to repent.

If Hananiah was a 21st Century American politician, his slogan would surely have been something like “Make Jerusalem Great Again.” Of course, just like we see with any current politician who wants a great America, Hananiah wouldn’t have had any concept of what truly made Jerusalem and Judah and Israel great in the first place – their relationship to the one true God.

Well, there’s no doubt that Hananiah’s prophecy was false. He was a false prophet whose message contradicted the word of the Lord.

So, now let’s see the response of the true prophet of God to this false prophet.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Jeremiah’s Response

Jeremiah’s response to Hananiah is found in Jeremiah 28:5-9. It begins…

5 ¶ Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD,

6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said,

And notice the repeated mention of the word “prophet” to describe Jeremiah. Remember – Hebrew doesn’t use the phrase “false prophet.” So, it’s as if the Lord here wants to point to the fact that Jeremiah is the true prophet in this story, not Hananiah.

“I wish you were right”

Well, here’s the start of Jeremiah’s words to Hananiah. In short, Jeremiah begins by saying something akin to “I wish you were right.”

Amen: [i.e., May] the LORD do so: [i.e., May] the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD’S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.

You might think that Jeremiah was giving in here. It can sound as if Jeremiah is siding with Hananiah in a prophecy that Jeremiah surely knows is not true.

But I don’t think Jeremiah is giving in or capitulating to this false prophet.

First, Jeremiah was not one to enjoy the destruction of his own people. We have recorded earlier in this book that he did not long for the fateful day. He didn’t want judgement to come on his people. In fact, her interceded for God to delay his punishment at least three times as recorded in this book. So, when Jeremiah hears a prophecy to restore God’s people and the Temple materials, well, objectively of course Jeremiah would have loved for that to be the case.

Added to that, God would do the very thing that Jeremiah is saying here. God would still bring the people and Temple vessels back to Jerusalem. But only after 70 years of captivity. So, part of Hananiah’s prophecy is true – but only when viewed in light of an intermediate exile.

And isn’t that how false prophecy works? It contains an element of truth. But the truth is distorted. Or it’s taught out of balance with the rest of truth – it’s overemphasized or underemphasized. Or its taught out of order or out of context.

Well, so Jeremiah would have loved for God to restore his people to their land, and he would someday. And yet, Jeremiah knew full well that this prophecy wasn’t accurate in the way it had been communicated. And so, ultimately I think Jeremiah’s response which we just saw was probably spoken with at least a hint of sarcasm.

“But…”

And we know this is the case because Jeremiah follows up his statement of wishing Hananiah’s prophecy were true with a big adversative…

7 [Nevertheless/Yet/But] hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;

“The typical prophetic message is negative”

And what Jeremiah wants Hananiah to know and recognize is this fact. The typical prophetic message is negative…

8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.

“So, we’ll have to wait and see if your message comes true”

And so, because the typical prophet message is negative – involving war, evil, pestilence, etc. – because that’s how these messages usually go, then Jeremiah says something like “We’ll have to wait and see if your message comes true.”

9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace [i.e., a fairly foreign theme of most prophetic messages], when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Summary of Jeremiah’s Response

So, in other words, Jeremiah admits that Hananiah has an attractive message that he wishes were true. And yet, Jeremiah knows better and realizes that Hananiah’s message is not true. He points to the tone of the typical prophetic message and declares that Hananiah’s message sticks out like a sore thumb in the history of prophecies because it is so exclusively positive.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Hananiah Breaks the Yoke

But Hananiah is not deterred. In fact, he’s going to ratchet up his rhetoric and actions against Jeremiah’s true message in Jeremiah 28:10-11.

10 ¶ Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.

11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying,

Thus saith the LORD;

Even so will I break the yoke [i.e., of servitude] of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.

You can imagine that Hananiah’s bombastic actions would have wowed the crowd. Here they are, watching a man who claims to be a prophet break the yoke off the neck of another prophet whose message they don’t particularly like. And surely the boldness of Hananiah would have emboldened at least some people to ignore Jeremiah’s message of submission to Babylon.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Jeremiah Leaves

Well, put yourself in Jeremiah’s sandals. Here he is giving an unpopular message to his own people. He was proclaiming this message while wearing a big wooden yoke that only animals ever wore. And now to make matters worse, a false prophet comes along and breaks the yoke off of him and tells everyone that what he just said was wrong. How embarrassing.

How does Jeremiah respond? Jeremiah 28:11 says…

And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

The text neither condemns nor commends to us how Jeremiah responds here. He could have stayed and kept talking and proclaiming judgement. I get the sense that maybe he was just tired of fighting with these people. He did his part. He spoke God’s word. He made the yokes and sent them to the nations and put one on himself. He even responded to Hananiah’s challenge with a challenge of his own.

What else could Jeremiah have said or done that would have made any difference at this point?

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: God Responds

Well, even though Jeremiah had basically given up on this battle with Hananiah, there was someone who wouldn’t. That’s the Lord. The Lord finally responds to Hananiah’s challenge in Jeremiah 28:12-14.

When

Here’s when God responded.

12 ¶ Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,

Command to go

Then God gives a command to go.

13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying,

Thus saith the LORD;

Iron replaces wood

And the message that Jeremiah is to now give to Hananiah is to alert that false prophet to the fact that iron will now replace wood in the situation with the yoke.

Thou hast broken the yokes of wood;
but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.

14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

The nations will serve Babylon

God now reasserts that the nations will indeed serve Babylon.

I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations,

that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon;

and they shall serve him:

and I have given him the beasts of the field also.

So, that’s God’s message that he wants Jeremiah to go back and proclaim to Hananiah.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Jeremiah Proclaims God’s Message

And Jeremiah proves once more to be a faithful servant as he proclaims God’s message in Jeremiah 28:15-16.

15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet,

You lie

Jeremiah is now quite a bit bolder in his confrontation with Hananiah. He basically says, “you lie” to Hananiah.

Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.

16 Therefore thus saith the LORD;

You will die

And because Hananiah lied, Jeremiah declares that he will die.

Behold, I [will/am about to] [cast thee from off/remove you from] the face of the earth:

this year thou shalt die,

Why?

Why the death penalty? It’s because Hananiah’s lie will lead to rebellion against the Lord.

because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Hananiah Dies

And here’s the punchline of the whole story. Hananiah – this threatening, menacing false prophet, who’s so full of words and deception – this man dies by God’s doing.

17 ¶ So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

Catch the time reference. Hananiah dies in the same year as what we heard of in the first verse – the fourth year of Zedekiah. Now, basically Jeremiah 28:1-16 all happened in the fifth month of that year. When did verse 17 happen? The seventh month. That’s two months, folks.

Note the irony. Hananiah declares falsely that God will release Judah from Babylonian power in two years. That never happens. But what does happen is that Hananiah dies – not in two years – but in two months.

Jeremiah 28 Commentary: Conclusion

So, brothers and sisters, stick to God’s word. Don’t be derailed by strange teachings. Don’t give up on trusting the words of the Lord over the words of people.

Resist false teaching. Resist the false teaching of men and women who claim to have God’s message. But let me also urge us all to resists the false teaching of our own idolatrous flesh. Our flesh lies to us all the time. It tells us unbiblical things. And we all too often listen to it.

May the Lord help us to ignore anything that contradicts God’s message and tempts to lead us astray. May he help us to know and love and obey his word. We won’t regret it in the end.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary

Jeremiah 27 Commentary

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: To start, let’s just note the progression of Jeremiah 27, 28, and 29.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Chapter 27 Summary

In what we’ll be studying right now – Jeremiah 27 – we’re going to see Jeremiah giving a message from God to both the nations surrounding Judah as well as Judah itself – both to the king of Judah and to the priests and all the people of Judah. The message is Submit to Babylon. And the Lord has Jeremiah act out that submission by constructing a yoke – the kind worn by oxen – and then putting that yoke on his neck. This was to serve as a symbol of servitude to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Chapter 28 Summary

Then in the next chapter, Jeremiah 28, a false prophet comes and breaks that yoke off Jeremiah’s neck. Then that false prophet utters a false prophesy. The Lord then gives that false prophet a true prophesy concerning himself that involves his death. A few months later that false prophet indeed does die.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Chapter 29 Summary

And last, in Jeremiah 29 the Lord addresses those who have submitted to Babylon – those who are in exile in the nation of Babylon. His message to them is to live well in exile. Seek the good of the city in which they find themselves. Don’t listen to agitators who are claiming that they will return to Judah in a few short years. It will actually take 70 years for them to be allowed to return to Judah – despite what their false prophets are telling them. So, the people were to do good in captivity and seek the welfare of the city in which they live. And finally also in Jeremiah 29, God singles out a few of the false prophets for special punishment.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Themes of Chapters 27-29

So, in these three chapters – Jeremiah 27-29 – we have at least two major recurring themes. One is submission to Babylon. The other theme is rejection of false prophets. And the former can happen only as they do the latter. That is, they will submit to Babylon only as they reject the false prophets. Because those false prophets are doing everything they can to convince the people that the Lord actually wants them to resist Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Yokes and Bonds

So, in Jeremiah 27:1-11, we have God telling Jeremiah to make yokes and bonds and then to command obedience of the nations to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Scene

And first, Jeremiah sets the scene in Jeremiah 27:1.

KJV Jeremiah 27:1 ¶ In the beginning of the reign of [Jehoiakim/Zedekiah] the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

We’ll continue soon. But first, we need to note something in this verse.

I need to point out a seeming discrepancy here. What king does this verse mention? It has “Jehoiakim.” He was the king who came after Jehoahaz. Jehoahaz reigned for a few months right after Josiah died. So, Jehoiakim was the second king after Josiah.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Verse 3

But let me point our attention forward to Jeremiah 27:3. There, Jeremiah is told to send a message to five nations that surrounded Judah at the time. And that verse ends by mentioning which king? It speaks of “Zedekiah.”

Now, Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. After Jehoiakim dies, then Jehoiachin reigns for a few months and then the king of Babylon exiles him and replaces him with a man named Mataniah, whose name he then changes to Zedekiah.

So, what we have is Jeremiah 27:1 speaking of king Jehoiakim’s reign. But then in Jeremiah 27:3 God is speaking of doing something under the reign of a king who would come after the death of Jehoiakim. So, this is starting to get a little confusing.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Verse 12

What’s more, Jeremiah 27:12 records Jeremiah’s response to the commands that God is giving him in these first 11 verses of the chapter. And immediately, Jeremiah “spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah.” But again, if Jeremiah 27:1 is really telling us that this all happened in the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign, then why – and even how – did Jeremiah speak to Zedekiah – a king who reigns only after Jehoiakim’s death??

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: 28:1

Let’s consider one more issue with the mention of Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 27:1. Jeremiah 28 – the next chapter in this book – records the response of a false prophet to God’s message through Jeremiah in this chapter. When does that event in Jeremiah 28 occur? Jeremiah 28:1 says, “And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of [whom?] Zedekiah king of Judah.”

So, if Jeremiah 28 is in the “same year” as Jeremiah 27, then we’d expect the king to be … Jehoiakim, according to Jeremiah 27:1. But it’s actually mentioned as “Zedekiah.”

Do you see the difficulty here? Several factors point to the events in Jeremiah 27 as occurring during the reign of Zedekiah. But the one statement in Jeremiah 27:1 indicates that these things happened during whose reign? Jehoiakim’s.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Manuscripts?

This is when you want to know what the Hebrew manuscripts say. And apparently almost all of them say “Jehoiakim” in Jeremiah 27:1. But a few have “Zedekiah” there instead.

So, there’s some manuscript evidence to say that the king mentioned in Jeremiah 27:1 should be “Zedekiah” rather than “Jehoiakim.” There’s also textual evidence to strongly indicate this as well – with the several references to Zedekiah in this chapter and the next chapter.

So, I would say this is a scribal error. God would have originally breathed out “Zedekiah” in Jeremiah 27:1 but a copier of the text would have accidentally written “Jehoiakim” instead.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: 26:1

Why? Is there any reason we can think of that would influence a scribe to accidentally write “Jehoiakim?” Look at Jeremiah 26:1. The chapter immediately preceding Jeremiah 27 starts this way, “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah…” So, Jehoiakim was mentioned at the beginning of the last chapter. And so perhaps that influenced a scribe to write his name at the beginning of this chapter.

But when it comes down to it, I do think that we’re in the reign of Zedekiah in this chapter. I mean, we have to be, considering the two other references to him in this chapter as well as the reference to him in the next chapter. The events in Jeremiah 27 occur during his reign.

What we’re about to read then occurs around 593/4 BC. We’re in the start of the reign of the last king of Judah. Jeremiah survived the reign of the wicked and bloodthirsty Jehoiakim. And now God has a message for his people Judah.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Make Yokes and Bonds

To start, God tells Jeremiah to construct some farm equipment in Jeremiah 27:2.

2 Thus saith the LORD to me;

Make thee bonds and yokes,

and put them upon thy neck,

These bonds and yokes are what they would put on animals to keep control of them. This was something that most humans would not wear. As a result, this would make Jeremiah stand out at least when he was wearing them.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Send the Yokes and Bonds to the Nations

And yet, Jeremiah wasn’t the only one who was going to be exposed to these symbols of submission. God wanted the nations surrounding Judah to get these as well, according to Jeremiah 27:3.

3 And send [them/messages] to the king of Edom, and
to the king of Moab, and
to the king of the Ammonites, and
to the king of Tyrus, and
to the king of Zidon,

by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;

So, the nations to the southeast, more directly east, and then north of Judah were to receive these bonds and yokes. And these pieces of equipment were to be sent with emissaries from those nations who visited Zedekiah, the current king of Judah at this time.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Message to the Nations

And, of course, determining the significance of receiving these bonds and yokes would be like receiving a bit or bridle or saddle in your mailbox from some anonymous sender. You would be clueless, unless you had an explanation that accompanied the package.

And so, that’s just what the Lord provides for these nations in Jeremiah 27:4-11.

4 And command them to say unto their masters,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

Thus shall ye say unto your masters;

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Lord is Creator and Can Delegate Control of His Creation

And the first part of the message is this. The Lord is Creator and can delegate control of his creation. That’s according to Jeremiah 27:5.

5 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground,

by my great power and by my outstretched arm,

That’s the creation. Now, the delegation.

and have given it unto whom it seemed [meet/right/fit] unto me.

So, what God creates, he can delegate to the sub-authority of various parts of his creation.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Lord Has Delegated the Nations to Babylon

And in fact, the Lord goes on in Jeremiah 27:6 to identify the nation to whom he delegated much of his creation in those days – Babylon.

6 And now have I given all these lands into the [hand/power] of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant;

and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.

So, Babylon has been given all lands and even the animals – everything!

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Nations Will Serve Babylon and One Day Be Served by Babylon

Next, the Lord gives a very general and high-level timeline of the events to come concerning Babylon in Jeremiah 27:7.

7 And all nations shall serve him [Nebuchadnezzar], and his son [Evil-Merodach who is mentioned in Jeremiah 52], and his son’s son [Belshazzar], until the very time [i.e. to fall] of his land [come/comes]:

and then [the tables will turn and] many nations and great kings shall [serve themselves of him/make him their servant/subjugate Babylon].

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Punishment for Not Recognizing God’s Delegation of Authority

And so, now that these nations know God’s delegated authority over them, the Lord makes known to them that they will need to be punished if they don’t recognize and respond correctly to that authority in Jeremiah 27:8.

8 ¶ And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,
and that will not put their neck under the yoke [i.e., of servitude] of the king of Babylon,

that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with [the sword/war], and with [the famine/starvation], and with [the pestilence/disease], until I have consumed them by his hand.

So, from this verse we finally see the significance of the yokes and bonds. Just like a human takes a farm animal and harnesses it with a yoke and bonds and thus brings it into submission and service for its master, so too will these nations be brought under the power of the King of Babylon.

If they refuse to submit, there will be some serious punishment.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Don’t Listen to Prophets Who Are Contradicting the Lord’s Message

Now, there is a groups of antagonists who don’t like that message of submissions to God’s delegated authority. And strangely enough – and as we’ve seen so far in this book – this is a group who claim to speak on behalf of deity. They’re false prophets. And God tells the nations to not listen to their false prophets who disagree with God’s message in Jeremiah 27:9.

9 Therefore hearken not ye

to your prophets, nor
to [your diviners/those who claim to predict the future by divination], nor
[to your dreamers/by dreams], nor
[to your enchanters/by consulting the dead], nor
[to your sorcerers/by practicing magic],

which speak unto you, saying,

This was the message of the false prophets:

Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Result of Listening to the False Prophets

God warns the nations about listening to their false prophets rather than his true message in Jeremiah 27:10.

10 For they prophesy a lie unto you,

And this lie has some significant repercussions if one listens to be believes it, such as…

to remove you far from your land;
and that I should drive you out,
and ye should perish.

So, exile for any nation that listens to false prophets who contradict God’s warning of submitting to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Promise of Remaining in the Land for Those Who Recognize God’s Delegated Authority

On the other hand, any nation that recognizes and submits to God’s delegated authority according to Jeremiah 27:11 will be allowed to remain in their land.

11 But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Summary of Verses 1-11

And that ends the initial communication of the Lord to Jeremiah in this chapter. In summary, Jeremiah was to make bonds and yokes, put one on himself, and then send a few to the neighboring nations, sending with the yokes a message demanding submission to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Message to Zedekiah

And now, for the rest of the chapter, we see – not what we might expect. I would expect that the rest of the chapter would record this message going to the nations mentioned earlier. But the rest of the chapter chronicles Jeremiah’s delivering a similar message to people in Judah.

Jeremiah ends this chapter addressing the priests and people in Jeremiah 27:16-22.

But first in Jeremiah 27:12-15, Jeremiah addresses Zedekiah the king concerning his duty to submit to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Submit to God’s Delegated Authority

The Prophet starts out telling Zedekiah of his need to submit to God’s delegated authority in Jeremiah 27:12.

12 ¶ I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying,

Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Disobedience Will Result in Destruction

So, that’s the command. And disobedience against that command will result in destruction, according to Jeremiah 27:13.

13 Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by [the sword/war], by [the famine/starvation], and by [the pestilence/disease], as the LORD hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?

In other words, Judah will be no exception from the general rule that God laid out earlier in this chapter.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Don’t Listen to the False Prophets Who Are Denying What God is Saying

And just like with those nations, Judah also and their king had to be warned against listening to those prophets who were proclaiming that what God just said was not true. That’s Jeremiah 27:14.

14 Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying,

Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:

for they prophesy a lie unto you.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: False Prophets Exposed

And then in the last verse in this section where Jeremiah is addressing Zedekiah – Jeremiah 27:15 – God exposes the false prophets.

15 For I have not sent them, saith the LORD, yet they prophesy a lie in my name;

And here’s the result of the “ministry” of these prophets.

that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.

So, as confidently as these prophets proclaim God’s peace to people who have no peace with God, these very prophets who are so confident will meet their end. The very prophesy from the Lord which they despise will seal their doom.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Summary of Verses 12-15

So, that’s Jeremiah 27:12-15 where Jeremiah addresses, not the nations, but his own nation and the king of that nation, Zedekiah. Zedekiah must submit to God’s delegated authority. If he doesn’t, destruction is inevitable. And Zedekiah must not listen to the prophets who are saying just the opposite of what Jeremiah – and ultimately, the Lord – is saying.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Message to the Priests and People

Now, on to the last of the three sections of Jeremiah 27.

The first section was a message from the Lord to Jeremiah concerning the nations and their need to submit to God’s delegated authority, which was Babylon.

The second section was Jeremiah delivering that same message to Zedekiah.

And now, lastly, in Jeremiah 27:16-22 Jeremiah addresses the priests and people in general, according to Jeremiah 27:16.

16 ¶ Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying,

Thus saith the LORD;

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Don’t Listen to False Prophets

And we’ve seen in the other two messages usually something of the following order: 1) Submit to Babylon and then 2) Don’t listen to false prophets who are contradicting that message.

But this message to the priests and people in general generally reverses course and tells them to 1) Ignore those false prophets who were lying to them on behalf of God. And then 2) to serve Babylon.

Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy unto you, saying,

And actually, here is a more detailed revelation as to what exactly the prophets were saying. They were denying that God would send Babylon to destroy them. But positively, this is what they were promising to the people.

Behold, the vessels of the LORD’S house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon:

And yet, this was a lie.

for they prophesy a lie unto you.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: Serve Babylon or Perish

So, now that we’ve heard a warning against the prophets, God gives the priests and people the command to serve Babylon with an attendant warning.

17 Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: wherefore should this city [be laid waste/become a ruin/be made a pile of rubble]?

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: The Prophets Should Be Praying for God’s Help

Next, in Jeremiah 27:18, God makes somewhat of a sarcastic suggestion as to what these false prophets really ought to do. Instead of spreading lies and contradicting the Lord’s words, why don’t they make themselves useful and pray that God will be merciful and turn from his present course of action?

18 But if they be prophets, and
if the word of the LORD be with them,

let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon.

Jeremiah 27 Commentary: But Even If They Do Pray, the Lord Has Determined Exile

But the reality that is evident from reading the last three verses of this chapter, Jeremiah 27:19-22, is that even if these prophets did turn their attention to pray for the Lord to turn from his determined destruction of his people, yet the Lord’s plans at this point would stand.

19 For thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the [i.e., two bronze] pillars, and concerning the [i.e., large bronze basin called ‘The] sea [], and concerning the [bases/stands/moveable bronze stands], [and concerning/He has already spoken about] the [residue/rest] of the [vessels/valuable articles] that remain in this city,

20 Which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took not, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem;

By the way, here’s another reason to see Jeremiah 27:1 as speaking of Zedekiah rather than Jehoiakim. Jeconiah was put on the throne after his father Jehoiakim was deposed. And the fact that all of this is referenced here would indicate that the events recorded here are from a later time – like under the reign of Zedekiah.

OK, we continue.

21 [Yea/Yes/Indeed], thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem;

22 They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, saith the LORD; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place.

And the Lord does indeed restore these vessels when the Jews returned to Jerusalem under the reign of the Persian king Darius – who would have been represented by those kingdoms that were said earlier in this chapter to serve themselves of Babylon or make Babylon their servant. Darius and Persia was one of those nations.

So, God keeps his promises. You can count on it. If man contradicts God’s promises of either threats or blessings, don’t listen to them. God is true even if every man is a liar.

And we’re not submitting to Babylon, but God has delegated authority over his creation to various groups and individuals. Government is one such group. Parents are another. Spiritual leaders still another. May the Lord help us to submit to these various delegated authorities in our life.

And next time, we’ll see one particular false prophet openly oppose Jeremiah and what results from that in Jeremiah 28.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary

Jeremiah 26 Commentary

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: The chapter starts in Jeremiah 26:1 with an introduction that sets the scene for the entire story.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Introduction

KJV Jeremiah 26:1 ¶ In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah [608/609 BC] came this word from the LORD, saying,

Now remember that last time in Jeremiah 25 we were in the time frame of this king mentioned here – Jehoiakim. And in Jeremiah 25 we were in the 4th year of his reign. That was around 605 BC. But now here in Jeremiah 26 we’re told that the events in this chapter happen at the beginning of his reign. That’s a rather vague time reference. I imagine that this would be earlier than his 4th year. It’s probably around his first year.

In other words, we’re in a time period right after the exile of Jehoahaz, who reigned for only three months after king Josiah’s death. So, here we are in Jeremiah 26 likely only a few months after the death of one of the godliest kings of Judah.

And we’re going to see remnants of the godliness of what was, under Josiah. But that fading godliness is now going to be transitioning out and being replaced with the ungodliness that characterized Judah’s last four kings who came after Josiah.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Command to Preach in the Temple

Now that we’ve been introduced to this chapter, let’s get into the main section of it.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Where to Go

What we see next in Jeremiah 26:2-6 is God’s commanding Jeremiah to preach in the temple.

2 Thus saith the LORD; [might be a repeating of 7:1-15]

Stand in the court of the LORD’S house,
and speak unto all [people coming from] the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them;
[diminish/omit/leave out] not a word:

3 [If so be/Perhaps/Maybe] they will [hearken/listen/pay attention], and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the [evil/calamity/destruction], which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

So, that’s God’s command to Jeremiah to go to the Temple where he will preach. In the next few verses God will specify what Jeremiah is to say. But let’s say a few things about these two verses first.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Chapter 26 vs. 7

Some have noticed similarities between this chapter and Jeremiah 7. Remember Jeremiah 7? That’s where God told the people through Jeremiah that he’s looking for inner righteousness working out of them into outward righteousness and not just the outward forms and rituals. He wanted ritual. But he didn’t want the ritual apart from the righteousness.

Now, I use two resources regularly for these messages. The first is the NET Bible’s study notes. They’re very helpful and insightful. The second resource is a commentary in the series entitled Teaching the Text. And I mention that both to direct you to materials that might be helpful for you in studying the Scripture and because I want to mention that both of these resources mention this possibility, that Jeremiah 26 and Jeremiah 7 might be rehearsing the same event.

And as much as I tend to appreciate these two books, I’m just not sure that these two chapters record the same event.

Consider this. Over Jeremiah’s several-decade long ministry in Judah, how many times do you think he went to the Temple? The main center of true religion. It wasn’t just one time, right? So, just because we read that Jeremiah was told to preach in the Temple in two different chapters, that doesn’t mean that this is the same event.

Plus there’s even a little bit of difference in where Jeremiah is told to go in Jeremiah 7 and 26. Jeremiah 7 has God saying “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house”. But here in Jeremiah 26, he commands Jeremiah to stand – not in the gate – but in the court of the Lord’s house.

So, the case for or against these two chapters – 7 and 26 – recording the same event is not undisputable either way. But I tend to think the evidence of these two chapters recording two separate events is stronger.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Is God Uncertain?

The other thing to note about Jeremiah 26:2-3 is the hint that God is uncertain about the outcome of Jeremiah’s preaching. He says to Jeremiah that “maybe” or “perhaps” or “if so be” that the people will hear his message and turn from their sin.

But doesn’t God know the end from the beginning? Isn’t he the one who numbered all of our days before a one of them existed? Isn’t he sovereign? Isn’t he the one who foretells what’s going to happen in the future – precisely because he’s working all things according to the counsel of his own will?

The answer is yes, he is all knowing. He is all powerful and uses his power to get this creation to exactly where he wants us to be. His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And yet, we can recognize some mystery in relation to the way God works. We don’t understand everything about him and how he works and how he interacts with his creation. If we did understand all of this, then we’d be better than God in some way.

Let’s consider another example of how we don’t quite understand how God works.

God created man and willed for them to obey him. But Adam and Eve did not obey. Did that thwart God’s will? In a way, yes. But in a very important way, no. How could God have sent Christ to die for our sin without sin being committed?

Oh, so then God wanted Adam and Eve to sin so that he could send Christ? No. He didn’t want them to sin. He wanted them to obey him.

Oh, so then God is not in control and his will was thwarted. No. He’s in control and his will stands.

And we’re just left scratching our heads and hopefully giving glory to this God whose ways are above and beyond us.

So, back to Jeremiah 26. Does God know how the people will react to Jeremiah’s message? I think so. Does he hold out hope that maybe they’ll turn to him? Somehow, apparently yes. Does that make sense to our finite minds? Not fully. Is that OK? It has to be.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: What to Say

So, now that God has assigned a place for Jeremiah to station himself – in the court, not the gate – he’s going to tell him what to say in Jeremiah 26:4-6.

4 And thou shalt say unto them,

Thus saith the LORD;

If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you,

5 To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, [both rising up early, and sending them/again and again], [(] but ye have not hearkened [)];

6 Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city [a/an] [i.e., example to be used in a] curse to all the nations of the earth.

So, this is a warning. If they don’t submit to God’s authority by obeying his commands which his servants the prophets gave, then God will make the Temple like Shiloh.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Shiloh

Let’s remind ourselves of Shiloh. It was a city in northern Israel. It’s where Joshua set up the Tabernacle. It’s where Israel gathered to plan and strategize. It’s where Eli and his sons were and where Hannah and her family would visit every year. It’s where Samuel first heard the Lord speak to him. It’s the place where the ark of the covenant was housed.

Then David moved the place of worship to Jerusalem. And yet even in the days of Jeroboam, who took the northern kingdom away from David’s line, there was a prophet in Shiloh. So maybe it still held a religious atmosphere about it, even after the tabernacle and ark were taken away from it.

And you might wonder when Shiloh was abandoned. I mean, God in Jeremiah 7 and now here refers to Shiloh and uses its desertedness and forsakenness to serve as a warning to Judah.

One possibility is that Shiloh was forsaken when David moved the center of worship from that city to Jerusalem. And yet, that wouldn’t be correct.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Psalm 78

Psalm 78 gives us the answer as to when Shiloh was forsaken by God. Psalm 78 tells us how good God was to Israel. He brought them out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan and gave them all sorts of good things. But then let me read to you how they responded to God’s goodness in Psalm 78:56-61.

KJV Psalm 78:56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: 57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. 58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. 59 When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: 60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; 61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.

So, here’s a God-inspired explanation of when he actually forsook Shiloh. It was when he sent the northern kingdom of Israel into exile for their sins. That’s when he forsook Shiloh.

And so, the warning to Judah here in Jeremiah 26 is one of exile. That’s what God is threatening when he threatens to make the Temple in Jerusalem like Shiloh. It’s exile – through an invading conquering enemy.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Reaction to Jeremiah’s Message

Well, this message that God gave to Jeremiah really is akin to God today threatening to make our country like – maybe the World Trade Center or New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina – only ten times worse. Maybe comparing our nation to Syria or Libya and the devastation those countries have experienced would be closer. And yet, even those comparisons don’t do justice to the impact of this threat. God is threatening Judah with punishment similar to that of a former national tragedy suffered by its neighbor and former brethren, Israel.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: The Christian Message

We Christians have a message from God for people just like Jeremiah had a message. Our message – the message we ourselves first had to hear and accept with humility – is that people are so wicked that they stand to face an eternity of suffering in Hell. That punishment far overshadows the threat that Jeremiah was giving.

And how do people like that message? Our message? How do people like being faced with the choice of surrendering to Christ or suffering eternal punishment? How do the proud people in our country react to hearing that their way is wrong and that they need to change? How do people react to hearing that there is something fundamentally flawed with them and that they are not alright?

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: My Testimony

A few months after I was saved, I was put in a situation where I ended up telling some family members what had changed in what I believed. I think I only had time to relate how my views on homosexuality had changed according to Scripture.

So, I was stunned when two of my family members took me outside and excoriated me like they had never done before for any reason. All the years of my vanity, profanity, and foolishness they could just wink at. But when all of a sudden I’m believing God’s word and applying that belief to life issues then in their mind I was to be reprimanded, warned, and practically threatened.

Two other family members that had gathered for that weekend, I was told later, were weeping because of me that night. Now, these two members of my family had never wept for me as far as I know when I was erring from truth and going astray and committing evil left and right. But all of a sudden when they got word that I was submitting to God’s authority, that’s when the tears started to flow.

And so, the point is that when you submit to God’s authority you might think everything is going to be just great. Life will be easy. People will respond joyfully. They’ll be ready to hear you.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: People React

That’s just not the case. And it wasn’t the case with Jeremiah. He obeyed God and delivered the message given to him.

And how did the people react? That’s recorded for us in Jeremiah 26:7-9.

7 ¶ So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.

Now, that’s a rather ominous note. Because the priests and the prophets who worked in the Temple in Jeremiah’s day – and especially in Jehoiakim’s day – didn’t really want to hear what the Lord had to say about anything that didn’t involve their physical and material blessing.

8 Now it came to pass,

when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people,

that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying,

Thou [shalt surely/must/deserve to] die. [dying you will die] [the penalty for false prophesy]

9 [Why hast/How dare] thou prophesied [i.e., not asking for information but rather rebuking J] in the [name/authority] of the LORD, saying,

This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?

And all the people were [gathered against/crowded around] Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

So, basically, the priests and false prophets and generally all the people in the Temple did not like what they heard from Jeremiah.

They got the message, though. They were able to repeat it back to Jeremiah.

And what is evident from their comments to him is that they considered his message – catch this – a false prophesy. The penalty for false prophesy was death. So, Jeremiah, a true prophet of the Lord, is labeled by the false prophets of his day as a false prophet.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Officials Set Up Court

Well, a serious charge like false prophecy under the Mosaic Law needed to be seriously evaluated. And so, in Jeremiah 26:10-11 we have the officials of Jerusalem set up court to consider the charges pressed against Jeremiah.

10 ¶ When the [princes/officials] of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the [king’s house/royal palace] unto the house of the LORD, and [sat down/set up court] in the entry of the [new gate/New Gate] of the LORD’S house.

Then the false religious leaders and their followers officially make their charge against Jeremiah.

11 Then [spake/made their charges] the priests and the prophets unto the [princes/officials] and to all the people, saying,

This man is worthy to die;
for he hath prophesied against this city,
as ye have heard with your ears.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Jeremiah’s Defense

Then we have Jeremiah making his defense to the officials in Jeremiah 26:12-15.

12 ¶ Then [spake/made his defense] Jeremiah unto all the [princes/officials] and to all the people, saying,

The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.

13 Therefore now [amend/correct] your ways and your doings,
and obey the voice of the LORD your God;
and the LORD will [repent him/change his mind] of the [evil/misfortune] that he hath pronounced against you.

14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand:
do with me as seemeth good and [meet/right] unto you.

15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof:

for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.

So, Jeremiah’s main argument is that God is the one who gave the message to him so that he could deliver it to the people. And so he’s not prophesying falsely.

He then advises them in two directions. One is to urge them that they would actually listen to God and submit to his authority so that they might live. And second, they can kill him if they want – but they’ll only bring more guilt on themselves, seeing that Jeremiah is innocent.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Verdict of the Officials

Well, what verdict do the officials reach? Jeremiah 26:16.

16 ¶ Then said the [princes/officials] and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets;

This man is not worthy to die:
for he hath spoken to us [in the name/under the authority] of the LORD our God.

Note the fickleness of “the people”. First they’re with the false prophets. Now they’re on Jeremiah’s side.

But thankfully, the officials render a “not guilty” verdict for Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Support of the Elders

Now, the officials get some support in their decision from the elders of Judah in Jeremiah 26:17-19.

17 Then rose up [certain/some] of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying,

18 Micah [the Morasthite/of Moresheth] prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah,
and spake to all the people of Judah, saying,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts;

Zion shall be plowed like a field,
and Jerusalem shall become [heaps/ruins/rubble],
and the [mountain of the house/temple mount] as [the high places of a forest/a mere wooded ridge]. [Mic 3:12]

19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death?
did he not [fear/reverence] the LORD, and besought the LORD,
and the LORD [repented him/changed his mind] [of the evil/about the misfortune] which he had pronounced against them?

Thus might we [procure/commit] great evil against our [souls/selves].

This is where I see the waning influence of past godliness in this chapter. Listen to these elders. They’re pointing people back to Micah and King Hezekiah. Micah gave a faithful message from the Lord in his day – maybe about 100 years before the events here in Jeremiah 26. And King Hezekiah humbly received the rebuke of the prophet. And God was moved to be merciful to them.

And these elders – probably most or all of whom were around in Josiah’s day – were of the correct opinion that this is how it should be. Surely, the example set by Micah and Hezekiah was how the king and people should respond to a faithful message from a true prophet.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Story of Urijah

And yet, the story to follow in Jeremiah 26:20-23 – maybe added by Baruch later, though certainly still under inspiration, no matter how it was put in here – shows that the influence of Josiah and the elders who shared the same beliefs and approach when it came to spiritual matters was completely nullified by the wicked king Jehoiakim.

Jehoiakim – probably later on in his 11-year reign – had a true prophet speak words of judgment similar to both Jeremiah’s and Micah’s. But unlike these elders who were influenced by Josiah and unlike the godly Hezekiah, wicked Jehoiakim killed that prophet.

20 ¶ [And/Indeed] there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land [according/similar] to all the words of Jeremiah:

This prophet said nothing significantly different from what Jeremiah just said in this chapter. And by the way, this story alerts us to the fact that Jeremiah wasn’t the only prophet in Judah in his day. There were apparently others who were still faithful to the Lord, though they were few and the people didn’t listen to them.

Now, here’s Jehoiakim’s very un-Hezekiah-ish response to this true prophet.

21 And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his [mighty men/bodyguards], and all the [princes/officials], heard his words, the king sought to put him to death:

Now, here’s one difference between this Urijah and Jeremiah – Jeremiah stayed where he was but Urijah fled.

but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt;

But Urijah couldn’t get away from his wicked king.

22 And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt.

23 And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.

Now, the name Achbor is found a number of times in Scripture in relation to Josiah. So, here again we see the waning of godly influence from the past. Josiah was righteous, but his son Jehoiakim isn’t. Achbor was one who was pleased to follow Josiah’s righteous reforms, but his son Elnathan is one who ends up playing a role in the murder of a righteous prophet of the Lord.

Jeremiah 26 Commentary: Ahikam’s Help

Well, if this is how Jehoiakim dealt with faithful prophets, how is it that Jeremiah lived through Jehoiakim’s entire reign and remained faithful to the Lord?

One part of the explanation is that the Lord had promised to protect Jeremiah way back when he commissioned him.

But the second and human element is to be found in Jeremiah 26:24.

24 ¶ Nevertheless the [hand/influence/power] of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

So then, in addition to the elders who were influenced by Josiah from times past, we have one man in particular who was helping Jeremiah. His name is Ahikam. He too was around under Josiah’s reign. His son actually becomes the Governor of Judah after the destruction of Jerusalem. And this man with the remaining influence he could exert on national affairs was a help to Jeremiah.

So in conclusion, there are several interesting comparisons and contrasts in this chapter. Jerusalem will become like Shiloh. But Jehoiakim is not like his father Josiah or like his ancestor Hezekiah. Urijah is like Jeremiah. Only, Urijah dies at Jehoiakim’s hand while Jeremiah lived. Maybe that’s because Urijah fled, but we don’t know for sure. In terms of message, both Jeremiah and Urijah were very similar to Micah of Moresheth. And all along through these comparisons and contrasts we get the message that The Influence of Past Godliness in Judah is Waning.

And with that, we’re finished with Jeremiah 26 and that means we’re half way through the 52 chapters of the book of Jeremiah!

Jeremiah 25 Commentary

Jeremiah 25 Commentary

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Now that we covered the emphasis of universal judgement in this chapter, we get to one of the main parts of Jeremiah 25. In Jeremiah 25:3-14 we have something of an anniversary message. Jeremiah has been preaching to the people 23 years, but they haven’t been paying attention.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “God Sent Me”

3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, [rising early and speaking/over and over];

but ye have not hearkened.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “God Sent Others”

And it’s not that the Lord sent Jeremiah only. Though they may not have been many in number, God had other prophets that he sent to his people.

4 And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, [rising early and sending them/again and again];

but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Their Message

And here’s the message that both Jeremiah and his fellow prophets spoke to the people.

5 They said,

Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever:

6 And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Your Response

So, turn from evil – especially idolatry – and you can stay in the land. That’s been God’s message to the people for so long. Pretty simple. But here’s the people’s response.

7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Punishment for Response

And so, there’s punishment that had to come to Judah due to this response of disobedience.

8 ¶ Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts;

Because ye have not [heard/obeyed/listened to] my words,

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Babylon’s 70 Years

9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

10 Moreover I will take from them the [voice/sound] of [mirth/joy], and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the [candle/lamp].

11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [dan 9.2, 2chr 36.21, zec 1.12]

So, note that this destruction will come not just to Judah but even to the surrounding nations.

Note also the mention of 70 years of these nations serving Babylon.

Some think that this time period started in 605 BC with the Battle of Carchemish and Nebuchadnezzar coming to power and that it ended with Cyrus’ decree for the Jews to return to Judah in 538 BC, which itself was a year after the last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, died. But if you’re calculating that, that’s only around 67 years. That’s close to 70, but not quite 70. And so someone who holds this view would say that the number 70 is sort of a round number that basically represents one whole generation. After all, Moses gave the life expectancy of people in his Psalm as three-score and ten – that’s 70 – the typical life span in those days.

Others have stated that maybe the 70 years started in 609 BC before the Battle of Carchemish in one of the previous battles in which Babylon defeated Assyria. Then if the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 539 BC that would make exactly 70 years.

The prophet Zechariah himself speaks of 70 years, but he’s actually speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC to the founding of Zerubbabel’s temple in 516 BC.

It’s interesting that the prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:1 starts to consider this 70 year period of time in 538 BC. So, I would assume that he was looking back to the starting of this desolation being about 608 BC – which would best line up with the theory that the 70 years started just a few years before what we’re reading about in Jeremiah 25 – and that it ends right around the time that Daniel seeks the Lord about this in 538/9 BC or so.

Ultimately though we might not be able to exactly pinpoint wen Babylon began to rule over the nations that God speaks about in this chapter. Did this 70 year period start when Babylon conquered its first nation? If so, when did that happen? We just might not know. But we do know generally when Babylon ceased to be in charge of things in the world. And we can count 70 years backward from there. And I think that is represented by the 609BC-539BC numbers.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Babylon’s Destruction

So, Babylon will have its 70 years of reigning over these nations. But there’s a time coming where Babylon itself will be overthrown.

12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. [jer 46-51; lxx order also]

14 For many nations and great kings shall [serve themselves/make slaves] of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.

Now, this does actually happen. The Medes and Persians killed the last king of Babylon – Belshazzar after his drunken feast with the writing on the wall recorded in the book of Daniel.

So, that was the beginning of Jeremiah’s 23rd anniversary message to the people. Babylon will come and destroy not only Judah but all the surrounding nations. And then after 70 years, Babylon itself will be destroyed.

Now in Jeremiah 25:15-29 the topic shifts to God’s wine cup of wrath for the nations which he just spoke of. And really, this is just a figurative way of expressing what God just very literally expressed in the previous section. The wine cup symbolizes God’s punishment of the nations that he just mentioned.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Command to Take the Cup

So, first, God commands Jeremiah to take this cup of wine to the nations in Jeremiah 25:15-16.

15 ¶ For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me [i.e., in a vision]; Take the wine cup of this [fury/wrath] [at/from] my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

16 And they shall drink, and [be moved/stagger], and [be/go] [mad/insane], because of the [sword/wars] that I will send [among/sweeping through] them.

I think that Jeremiah is experiencing another vision here. The Lord speaks of taking a cup from his hand. And yet we know that God the Father has no literal physical hands. In addition, the last statement of Jeremiah 25:16 identifies this cup as brining a sword or wars among these nations. Regular literal physical cups don’t do that.

Then what the Lord is doing here is giving a vision to Jeremiah in which the cup is real. Jeremiah in this vision can see this cup. And yet outside of the vision in literal physical reality, the cup represents something. The cup represents God’s punishment through military conflict.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Make the Nations Drink

Next in this vision, Jeremiah obeys God’s command to “take the cup” and to “cause all nations…to drink it” in Jeremiah 25:17-26.

17 ¶ Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:

He starts with Judah.

18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; [as it is this day/such is already becoming the case];

He moves to Egypt.

19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;

20 And all the [mingled/foreign] people [i.e., living in Egypt],

and all the kings of the land of Uz,

Uz is either somewhere near the Euphrates River or in the land of Edom.

Then Jeremiah comes back to the Philistines in his vision.

and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, [(] [and/even] Ashkelon, and [Azzah/Gaza], and Ekron, and the [remnant/people left alive] of Ashdod [)],

Then he goes back south and east.

21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,

Then Jeremiah comes back up to the northwest.

22 And all the kings of [Tyrus/Tyre], and all the kings of [Zidon/Sidon], and the kings of the [isles/coastlands] which are [beyond/along] the sea,

Then Jeremiah goes – again, in his vision – down toward Arabia.

23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all [that are in the utmost/who cut the] corners [i.e., of their hair, at the temples],

24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the [mingled/foreign] people that dwell in the desert,

Then he goes toward Babylon in the far east.

25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of [the Medes/Media],

26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of [Sheshach/Babylon] [cipher/secret code, reverse alphabet, 22 letters, sh (21) sh (21) k (11) = b (2) b (2) l (12)] shall drink after them.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “Speak to the Nations”

And I think we’re still in the vision when God commands Jeremiah to speak to these nations in Jeremiah 25:27.

27 ¶ Therefore thou shalt say unto them,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

Drink ye [i.e., this cup], and be drunken, and [spue/vomit], and fall, and rise no more, because of the [sword/wars] which I will send among you.

Jeremiah 25 Commentary: If They Refuse to Drink

We continue in the vision when the Lord tells Jeremiah what to do if the nations refuse to drink in Jeremiah 25:28-29.

28 ¶ And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink,

then shalt thou say unto them,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts;

Ye shall certainly drink[./!]

29 For, [lo/take note], I [begin/am beginning] to bring [evil/calamity/disaster] on the city which [is called by my name/I call my own],
and should ye be utterly unpunished?

Ye shall not be unpunished:
for I [will call for a sword/am proclaiming war] upon all the inhabitants of the earth,

saith the LORD of hosts.

And then in the rest of the chapter in Jeremiah 25:30-38 the Lord gives Jeremiah the literal command to prophesy against the nations. I originally put that he’s to prophesy “to” the nations. But that’s not what the text says. Jeremiah is to prophesy “against” these nations.

Now, we know from Jeremiah 51 that the prophesies against Babylon were actually literally read aloud in Babylon. But as for the other nations, I’m not sure whether they ever got these messages that were concerning them.

30 ¶ Therefore prophesy [thou/Jeremiah] against them all these words, and say unto them,

First, God will compare himself to a dangerous fierce lion and also as a man who triumphantly treads grapes as he literally judges the nations.

The LORD shall roar from [on high/the heights of heaven] [i.e., like a lion about to attack], and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar [roaring he will roar] [upon/against] his [habitation/fold/land]; he shall give a [i.e., triumphant] shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.

31 [A noise/A clamor/The sounds of battle] shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD [hath a controversy with/will bring charges against] the nations, he will [plead/enter into judgement/pass judgement] [with/on] all [flesh/mankind]; he will give them that are wicked to [i.e., be killed by] the sword [i.e., in war], saith the LORD.

Next, the Lord compares his judgement of the nations to a whirlwind that leaves widespread and massive destruction.

32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts,

Behold, [evil/disaster] shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great [whirlwind/storm] [i.e., of military destruction] shall be raised up from the [coasts/remotest part/distant parts] of the earth.

33 ¶ And [the/those] slain [of/by] the LORD shall be at that day [i.e., scattered] from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be [i.e., like] dung upon the ground.

And last, the Lord compares the leaders of the nations who will receive God’s judgement to shepherds, while he comes back to the metaphor of himself as a dangerous and fierce lion. As the lion attacks their sheep and the shepherds themselves, those shepherds have no way to stop the attack.

34 [Howl/wail], ye [shepherds/rulers], and cry [i.e., in anguish]; and [wallow/roll] yourselves in the ashes, ye [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock: for the days [of your slaughter/for you to be slaughtered] and of your dispersions [are accomplished/have come]; and ye shall fall like a [pleasant/choice/fine] vessel.

35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock to escape.

36 A voice of the [i.e., anguished] cry of the [shepherds/leaders], and an [howling/wailing] of the [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath [spoiled/destroyed] their [pasture/lands].

37 And the peaceable [habitations/folds/dwelling places] are [cut down/made silent/laid waste] because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

38 He hath [forsaken/left] his [covert/hiding place], as the lion: for their land [is desolate/has become a horror/will be laid waste] because of the [fierceness/warfare] of the oppressor, and because of [his/God’s] fierce anger.

So, that’s Jeremiah 25 – God’s Universal Judgement.