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Jeremiah, Chapter 29
Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles
Theme: Message of hope to first delegation of captives
The date of this chapter is some time after the first wave of captives had been carried to Babylon following the first Babylonian capture of the city in 597 B.C. Jehoiachin was overthrown after a very brief three months on the throne; and the puppet king Zedekiah, an uncle of his, had been installed as the vassal king of his overlord the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.
The false prophets were busy spreading the falsehood that the captivity would shortly end; Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) would be restored, and all the vessels of the Temple would be restored to Jerusalem. This was the message of Hananiah (of Chapter 28) who had promised all of these wonderful things would take place in a mere couple of years.
The crowd of false prophets, similar to Hananiah, were circulating the same falsehoods in Babylon; and the letter in this chapter was written by Jeremiah to lessen and frustrate the evil campaign of the false prophets.
It simply was not the will of God that Israel's captivity would be over, within so short a time as the false prophets were saying, although it is easy to understand why the false prophets believed that the captivity would soon end. There still remained in the person of Zedekiah, a representative of the house of David on the throne in Jerusalem; the Temple still stood, despite the robbing of many of its treasures; and because of this, the false prophets thought that the complete independence of Judah might soon be restored.
God had ordained and commanded the captivity of Judah as a punishment upon the rebellious, apostate nation; it was God's intention to humble and discipline His people, and bring them at last to an acceptable relationship to Himself; and, if their captivity had been nothing but an extended scheme against their captors, the purpose of God would certainly have been frustrated. The captivity would not be short, but long, (vs. 4); it would last into the third generation; and the vast majority of the captives would never see Jerusalem again! Jeremiah's letter was to destroy the campaign of the false prophets.
There are not four letters in this chapter, as some say. The first words of the Chapter state: Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem. It was a delegation from Zedekiah that bore the letter to Babylon, and there is no need to suppose that Zedekiah ever saw Jeremiah's letter, and even if he had seen it, the main part of the letter was clearly in line with Zedekiah's own kingly interests. If some kind of a rebellion in Babylon had resulted in the restoration of Jehoiachin to his throne, it would have meant the fall of Zedekiah.
The battle between Jeremiah and the false prophets was carried on before by preaching, and here by letters. Before we had sermon against sermon, here we have letter against letter, for some of the false prophets are now carried away into captivity in Babylon, while Jeremiah remains in his own country. Now here is: (1). A letter which Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon, against their prophets that they had there (vs. 1-3), in which letter, (a). He tries to reconcile them to their captivity, to be easy under it and to make the best of it (v. 4-7). (b). He cautions them not to give any credit to their false prophets, who fed them with hopes of a speedy release (vs. 8-9). (2). He assures them that God would restore them to their own land again, at the end of 70 years (vs. 10-14). (3). He foretells the destruction of those who yet continued, and that they would be persecuted with one judgment after another, and at last sent into captivity (vs. 15-19). (4). He prophesies the destruction of two of their false prophets that they had in Babylon, that both soothed them in their sins and set them bad examples (vs. 20-23), and this is the purport of Jeremiah's letter. (5). Here is a letter which Shemaiah, a false prophet in Babylon, wrote to the priests at Jerusalem, to stir them up to persecute Jeremiah (vs. 24-29), and a denunciation of God's wrath against him for writing such a letter (vs. 30-32). Such struggles as these have there always been between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
Jeremiah Wrote to the Captives in Babylon, Against Their Prophets That They Had There (Jer. 29:1-3)
Jer. 29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; (KJV)
The letter Jeremiah wrote shortly after the 597 B.C. deportation of many countrymen (verse 2), was written to comfort them in exile.
Many had been carried into captivity into Babylon. This letter is sent to them. The word residue lets us know there had been more elders than were living now. Jeremiah could have dictated this letter to someone to write to the people. Jeremiah was well known to them because he had prophesied to them while they were still in Jerusalem. Jeremiah had remained in Jerusalem. The priests and prophets were treated no differently than the average person. They were taken captive too.
*****Chapter 29 records Jeremiah's letter to the people who had been taken into captivity when Jehoiachin was king (2 Ki.24:10-16). The complete captivity of Judah came eleven years later (2 Ki.25:1-7).
This was God's instruction to them:
Jer. 29:2 (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) (KJV)
All these people were from Judah. Jeconiah is the same as Jehoiachin, who was carried captive into Babylon when he had reigned only three months.
And the queen . . . not Jeconiah's wife, for he had none; but his mother, whose name was Nehushta, and who was carried captive with him (2 Ki.24:8).
And the eunuchs . . . or attendants to the queen. The Targum calls them princes. These were of the king's household, his courtiers; and such persons have been everywhere, and in all ages, court favorites.
And the princes of Judah and Jerusalem . . . the noblemen and dignitaries of the nation.
And the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem . . . whom Nebuchadnezzar took with him, partly for his own use in his own country, and partly that the Jews might be deprived of such workmen that could assist in fortifying their city, and providing them with military weapons (Jer. 24:1).
Jeconiah spent his days of captivity in Babylon. They were departed means they were captured.
Jer. 29:3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying, (KJV)
By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan . . . possibly the brother of Ahikam, and of Jaazaniah (Jer.26:24).
And Gemariah the son of Hilkiah . . . to distinguish him from Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe (Jer.36:10).
Whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon . . . as his ambassadors, why it is not certain, maybe to pay the tribute money to him; or to discuss with him about the restoration of some of the captives, or to cultivate friendship, and promise submission, and that he would faithfully keep the covenant he had made with him. However, by the hand of these messengers Jeremiah sent his letter to them.
Saying . . . what follows in verse 4.
Verses 4-10: Jeremiah’s counsel to Israelites in Babylon was to take all the steps in living as colonists planning to be there for a long time (70 years, 29:10, as 25:11). Further, they were to seek Babylon’s peace and intercede in prayer for it, their own welfare being bound with it (verse 7; Ezra 6:10; 7:23).
He tells them to Be Easy Under It and to Make the Best of It (Jer. 29:4-7)
Jer. 29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . the letter was written by the order of the LORD, was edited by Him, and was sent in His Name. The titles which the LORD here takes are worthy of notice. The LORD of hosts: the LORD of the armies above and below, that does according to His pleasure in Heaven and in Earth, with whom nothing is impossible (Mat.19:27; Mk.9:23; 10:27). Who could easily destroy the enemies of His people, and deliver them, either immediately by His power, or by means of armies on Earth, whom He could gather, and send at His pleasure. Dear one, legions of angels (Mat.26:53) are at His command. The God of Israel is their covenant God, who still continued to be so, aside from their sins and transgressions, and though in captivity in a foreign land. To preserve them from the idolatry of the country they were in, and to show them that He only was to be worshipped by them.
Unto all that are carried away captives . . . or to all of the captivity. High and low, rich and poor; this letter was an interesting one to them all.
Whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon . . . for although their sins and iniquities were the reason of their captivity; and Nebuchadnezzar and his army was the instruments . . . but the LORD was the efficient cause. The Chaldeans could never have carried them captive, if it had not been the will of the LORD. For there is no evil of this kind in a city, and the Lord hath not done it (Am.3:6).
*****The main difference in this prophecy and the ones we have been reading that Jeremiah gave, is this one was written. Jeremiah sent the message by letter because he could not be there in person. The LORD wants all the captives to understand that they are there, because He wanted it that way. They are there because God had judged them, and now is chastening them so they will repent and return to worship of God. God has not forgotten them. He still loves them. The captivity is for their own good.
Jer. 29:5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; (KJV)
Build ye houses, and dwell in them . . . indicating that they must not expect to return to their own land any time soon, but that they would continue many years where they were. This also seems to suggest that as they had the ability, so too they would have liberty, of building themselves houses. Nor would they be interrupted by their enemies, nor would their houses be taken from them when built. But they would dwell in peace and quietly in them, as their own. Which they might assure themselves were from the LORD, who gives these, and the following directions.
And plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them . . . and live as comfortably as you can in a foreign country. Plant your gardens with vines and pomegranates, and all sorts of fruitful trees the country produces, and do not be afraid that the fruit will be taken away from you. You can depend upon it, for you shall eat the fruit of your own labor, and not be deprived of it (vs.10, 28; Eze.28:26).
*****It seems from this that they had hesitated to do anything permanent, because they thought they would not be captive for long. Now God is telling them it will be for a long time. They must not be idle. They must work while they are captives, and instead of complaining about the captivity, they should make the best of it. They should build houses and plant gardens to supply their needs. They must be a good example to these heathen people around them. In a strange way, they will represent their God to these heathens, for by the way they live in adverse circumstances, will tell their heathen captives about their faith in God.
Jer. 29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. (KJV)
Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters . . . meaning those that had no wives, who were either bachelors or widowers. They were not to take wives of the Chaldeans, but of those of their own nation, because intermarriages with Heathens was forbidden to them. This they were to do, to reproduce their posterity, and keep up a succession.
And take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands . . . preserving and establishing the right of parents to give their children in marriage, and pointing to them their duty to provide suitable yoke fellows for them. And hereby is signified, that not only they, but their children after them, would continue in this state of captivity.
That they may bear sons and daughters, that ye may be increased there . . . we must remember that they had been reduced to a remnant. Many had died from famine, others died by the sword. The few left must now multiply and not die out. They are to marry just as they would if they were at home, for Babylon will be their home for a long time.
And not diminished . . . like their ancestors in Egypt, who grew very numerous, even amidst all their afflictions and bondage.
Jer. 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (KJV)
And seek the peace of the city . . . the prosperity and happiness of Babylon, or any other city in Chaldea, where they were placed. This they were to do by prayer and pleas to God, and by all other means that might be any way be favorable to the good of the condition where they were.
Whither I have caused you to be carried away captives . . . and as long as they continued so; for being under the protection of the magistrates of it, although Heathens, they owed them submission. And were under obligation to contribute to their peace and welfare.
And pray unto the LORD for it . . . pray for the city, where they dwelt, for the continuance, safety, peace, and prosperity of it.
For in the peace thereof shall ye have peace . . . which is an argument taken from self-interest, suggesting, that while the city in which they were was in safety and prosperity, was in a flourishing condition. As to its health and trade, they would partake more or less with them of the same advantages. And on the other hand, they would be distressed with the sword, famine, pestilence, or any grievous calamity, they would be involved in the same. They should act with respect to their captors. They should pray for the peace of Babylon, because it will bring peace to them as well, since they are living there now.
He Cautions Not to Give Credit to False Prophets, Who Fed Them with Hopes of a Speedy Release (Jer. 29:8-9)
Jer. 29:8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. (KJV)
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . the LORD is speaking through Jeremiah.
Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you . . . their false prophets, and there were many of them in the captivity (Eze.13:2). And there were some who pretended to be diviners and foretell future things, and imposed upon the people who believed them. These false wicked ones told them that in a little time they would have their liberty, and return to their own land again . . . which was completely opposite to the prophecies that came from the LORD Himself.
Neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed . . . because a speedy return to their own land was nothing but a dream. They thought about it in the daytime, they dreamed of it at night and imagined it was from the LORD; a divine dream; and also they encouraged the false prophets and diviners to dream, and tell their dreams, by their listening to them, and being pleased with them, giving them credit as if they came from God.
*****Jeremiah had prophesied against these false prophets before they went into captivity. He now warns them again NOT to listen to the false prophets, diviners, and dreamers.
Jer. 29:9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD. (KJV)
For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name . . . false prophets pretend to have the authority from God for what they said, then and now. They said their prophecies and dreams were from God, and they delivered them in His Name. Even though they were false ones; they were readily received by the people.
I have not sent them, saith the LORD . . . they had absolutely no mission or commission from the LORD, no permission or authority from Him. They set themselves up; running without being sent; and prophesying whatever came into their heads. The ideas were their own, or the deceptions of Satan, under whose power and influence they were. What a sad case of a people giving heed to seducing spirits. They pretend they are of God by saying Thus saith the LORD, but their prophecies are of the devil. They are NOT of God.
He Assures Them That God Would Restore Them toTheir Own Land Again, at the End of 70 Years (Jer.29: 10-14)
Jer. 29:10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. (KJV)
When reading this prophecy near the time of the end of the captivity, Daniel knew what God was about to do and he began to pray and confess his sins and the sins of his people.
Dan. 9:1-6 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; 2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (KJV) . . . Daniel did not know the exact time, but he knew God would fulfill His Promise (Jer. 25:11). God does not leave them in the dark. He tells them they will be captives for 70 years. They must keep the faith and remain loyal to God in this heathen land, and if they are faithful, God will bring them home after the 70 years.
Jer. 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (KJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD . . . God alone knew the thoughts of the people; the false prophets knew absolutely nothing of His purposes or His will, even though they said they knew. God's thoughts are far beyond our human understanding. Isa. 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (KJV)
Thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . . the Jews had no thoughts of peace, only of evil, because they could not imagine how deliverance could come to them. But God’s plan was for their ultimate good; and in later history, their sorrow would be turned to joy (Ps 126; 136:23-26).
To give you an expected end . . . an expected end or a future of peace and hope.
*****Thoughts of peace, this assured God’s intentions to bring about blessings in Israel’s future (Jer. Chapters 30 to 33). God's thoughts are not evil toward them. He loves them. He promises them their freedom after the 70 years. He has given them something to look forward to. This captivity is to make them repent and return to God. It is for their good, not God's. God's thoughts are upon them constantly. He loves them, and wants to fellowship with them. The lifeless objects they had been worshipping, had no power of thought. To mention the thoughts of God shows that He is a Living Spirit (Jn.4:24).
Jer. 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. (KJV)
Then shall ye call upon me . . . when the expected end is about to come. When God intends and is about to bestow a mercy, He gives His people a spirit of prayer to ask for it. And even the Promise of it is a considerable argument to encourage and engage more to pray for it.
And ye shall go and pray unto me . . . walk in God’s ways; and go into your private closets, or into those public places where prayer was accustomed to being made, and there put up your petitions. Or the meaning may be, that they would continue praying unto Him. They would pray without ceasing, until they enjoyed the blessing, and had the expected end given them.
And I will hearken unto you . . . God is a God that hears prayer. He listens to the requests of His people, and He answers them in His own time and way. This was no small encouragement to pray to Him.
*****God has not stopped listening to their prayers and neither has He stopped listening for their prayers, or ours. Praying to God is a way of fellowshipping with Him. It is also a way of expressing belief in Him. To hearken is to listen closely, and obey.
Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (KJV)
And ye shall seek me, and find me . . . when people seek the LORD rightly, they will always find Him. When God hears prayer, He bestows favors on them; granting them His Presence. The LORD brings them in communion with Himself; and favors them with fresh supplies of His grace, and everything they need; every mercy, temporal and spiritual. When anyone seeks God in Christ, Who is the only way to the Father (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12), under the guidance and influence of the Blessed Spirit.
When ye shall search for me with all your heart . . . which does not mean perfection, but integrity and sincerity. When they draw nigh with a true heart, and call upon Him in truth, and search for Him with eagerness, with a hearty desire to find Him, like men who search for gold, silver and hidden treasure do.
*****God is interested in the heart of man. They have to believe in their hearts that God exists, before they seek Him. He is never far away. When they seek God, it is certain that they will find Him, for He wants to be found. He is there all the time, waiting for them to seek Him. The heart is what man is. If the heart is right with God, the person is saved. Rom. 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (KJV) . . . Salvation is of the heart.
Jer. 29:14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (KJV)
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD . . . the LORD would answer their prayer, by returning the Jews to their land, compare Daniels example and God’s response (Dan. 9:4-27). Fulfillment would occur in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and beyond this in even fuller measure after the Second Advent of their Messiah (Dan. 2:35, 45; 7:13; 14:27; 12:1-3, 13). When God’s favor is shown, His Presence is enjoyed, and the blessing sought for is obtained.
And I will turn away your captivity . . . this plans the captivity of Jeconiah, or of the Jews that were carried captive with him; and which had its accomplishment when the Jews returned to their own land, upon the edict of Cyrus.
And I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD . . . for although the greatest part might be carried to Babylon, and continue there; others might be removed or moved into other countries; and this may concern their brethren who would come into captivity, and return with them at the end of the seventy years.
And I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive . . . meaning Jerusalem, and the land of Judea.
*****For Israel’s regathering (Jer. 23:3). This is not only speaking of bringing them back from captivity to their Promised Land, but it also speaks of them being restored to fellowship with their God. The covenant made to Abraham is still theirs IF they obey God. The return to their homeland is a prophecy fulfilled just after the 70 years, but is also speaking of the return of the natural Jew to the Holy Land.
They Would Be Persecuted with One Judgment After Another, And Sent at Last into Captivity (Jer. 29:15-19)
Jer. 29:15 Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon; (KJV)
Because ye have said . . . meaning some of them; for here the LORD, by the prophet, turns from the godly among the captives, whom he had been advising, encouraging, and comforting before, to those who gave heed to the false prophets, who promised them a speedy return to their own land, which they believed; and so rejected and hated the prophecies of Jeremiah, and others.
The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon . . . and therefore stood in no need of other prophets that were in Judea, or in Jerusalem, nor would they listen to them; but believe those that were raised up among themselves, rather than others at a distance; and although these were false prophets, yet, being as they prophesied to them things that were agreeable, they were willing to believe them, and consider them, and receive them, as prophets sent of God, when they were not sent by God.
Jer. 29:16 Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity; (KJV)
Know that thus saith the LORD . . . therefore, the LORD sent the following message to them, informing them that it was so far from being true that they would in a short time return to Jerusalem. That, on the other hand, they that were there would soon be with them in captivity, or be destroyed.
Of the king that sitteth on the throne of David . . . meaning King Zedekiah, who was then the reigning king at Jerusalem.
And of all the people that dwelleth in this city . . . the city Jerusalem, where Jeremiah was, and from where this letter was written, in the Name of the LORD, to the captives at Babylon.
And of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity . . . that lived in several parts of the land of Judea, who were left behind, and not carried captive, those were to whom these words are directed.
Jer. 29:17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence . . . Jer. 24:10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers. (KJV)
And will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil . . . Jer. 24:8 And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt: (KJV)
*****The throne of David had now been taken over by an evil king. Those who were not willing to be chastened by God by captivity, and will be thought of as God's rebellious children. They will be severely punished. They will not allow God to teach them His ways because they are evil, refusing to receive their rightful punishment from God. They are rebellious and God will bring famine and the sword to destroy them. Figs symbolize the house of Israel. Vile figs are good for nothing but to destroy. Jer. 29:16-17 contains the prophecy of the complete destruction of the remainder of Judah in Jerusalem. The vital importance of this prophecy against the remainder of Judah in Jerusalem is that it was necessary to silence and destroy the campaign of the false prophets. Their entire message of the false prophets was, We all will be back home in Judah within two years. Jeremiah had already been fully verified as a TRUE prophet of God; and this message sent to the exiles effectively killed their whole operation. It infuriated them; but it also silenced them.
Jer. 29:18 And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: (KJV)
And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence . . . or I will follow after them, meaning those that would escape out of the city, and go to Egypt or other countries for shelter and safety, and would be chased by the vengeance of God, and would fall by sword, famine or pestilence, in other places.
And will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth . . . and will deliver those who would not perish by the above mentioned calamities.
To be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth . . . where they would be scattered, and live in exile: or who would shake and tremble at such a dreadful spectacle of vengeance; or rather they would shake and tremble at the wrath of God upon them; or else their enemies, among whom they would be, should shake their heads at them, by way of insult and triumph over them.
To be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach . . . among all the nations whither I have driven them; where men shall look at them with amazement, and curse and hiss at them, and reproach them, as the outcasts of the world.
And will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth . . . where they would be scattered, and live in exile.
*****They were like rebellious children. Rebellion was considered as witchcraft. They had been unfaithful to God. They had a chance to be chastised for their unfaithfulness but refused. Now the LORD has given up on changing them, and will deal harshly with them. Everywhere they go they will be thought of as outcasts. They will have no respect shown them at all.
Jer. 29:19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD. (KJV)
Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD . . . which were spoken to them by the prophets; not listening to them, but hating them and the LORD, with contempt for God and His Word, and was the reason of their ruin (2 Chr. 36:15).
Which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets . . . such as Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and others.
Rising up early, and sending them . . . which means the frequency of their mission; the diligent care of the LORD towards them; and His earnest concern for their welfare; and the abundance of means they were favored with; all which added to their sin.
But ye would not hear, saith the LORD . . . refused the words of the LORD by His prophets and refused the counsel and warnings He gave them; but insisted on and pursued their own ways and counsels, and listened to the false prophets. They had ears to hear, but they did not pay attention to what they said. They did not listen to the warnings God sent them by the prophets.
Verses 20-23: The LORD would carry out the death penalty for false prophets (Jer. 14:14-15; Deut. 18:14-21), by delivering Ahab and Zedekiah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, who would put them to death for inciting treason. False teaching eventually demonstrates itself in a lifestyle of greed and immorality (2 Pet. 2:14-20; Jude 8-16).
Prophesies Destruction of Two False Prophets,
That Soothed Them in Their Sins (Jer.29:29:20-23)
Jer. 29:20 Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon: (KJV)
Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD . . . what he was now about to say concerning their false prophets:
All ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon . . . all that were carried captive along with Jeconiah. Some parts of this letter is directed to one part of the captives, and other parts to another part of them; some were good men, some were bad; but what follows, all good and bad were called upon to pay attention, for it predicted a certain event which they would see fulfilled in a short time; and therefore might be of service of them; to the godly, to confirm in them the belief of what the LORD had promised; and to the rest, to make them stop listening to false prophets, that would there after arise.
Jer. 29:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes; (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . (verse 4).
Of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name . . . two false prophets, of whom we have no account anywhere else but here, and are no doubt the prophets, or at least two of them, that they of the captivity boasted of that God had raised unto them in Babylon (verse 15).
Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon . . . they would commit some crime against the state, of which notice would be given, and they would be seized as rebellious persons; which was permitted, that they might be brought to punishment for other sins they were guilty of.
And he shall slay them before your eyes . . . by roasting them with fire (verse 4).
Of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you . . . two false prophets, of whom we have no account anywhere else but here. And no doubt are, the prophets, or however two of them, that they of the captivity boasted of that God had raised unto them in Babylon (Jer. 29:15).
Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon . . . they would be said to commit some crime against the state, of which notice should be given, and they would be seized as rebellious persons. This was permitted, that they might be brought to punishment for other sins they were guilty of.
And he shall slay them before your eyes . . . by roasting them with fire: as follows.
It seems that Ahab and Zedekiah were false prophets. They had become prophets of their own choice, not because God had called them. They spoke as if God had sent them. Their message was a lie, and Nebuchadnezzar will slay them.
*****Ahab and Zedekiah were two captives, false Israelite prophets, who had been misleading exiles in Babylon (verse 15), and will stir up the wrath of their captor king, who will cast them into a furnace (Dan. 3). They aroused not only the Babylonian king’s hatred, but also God’s anger and hatred, because of prophecies against His Word and their physical adultery (Jer.5:7). Jer.29: 20–23 of Jeremiah's letter is directed to these two men, with a message from God that they shall be put to death. This letter was a rather extended letter that Jeremiah sent to Babylon, and includes messages to no less than four different groups:
(1). those already in captivity in Babylon (Jer.2:10-14);
(2). those who would become captives later (Jer.29:15-19);
(3). Ahab, Zedekiah and all the other false prophets (Jer.29:21-23); and
(4). Shemaiah (Jer.29:24-32).
This long letter, addressed to these different groups, shows that Jeremiah's message with the captives had been rather extensive. Shemaiah was among those who had written a letter which Jeremiah read; and there were doubtless other examples also.
Jer. 29:22 And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire; (KJV)
And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon . . . a form of cursing, when they cursed anyone, they wished him ill, it would be in such a hateful and loathsome way; that rather than being well remembered as having served the Jews, their names would be preserved in curses.
Saying, the LORD make thee like Zedekiah, and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire . . . or burnt them; not quickly, but with a slow fire. Burning persons with fire, and casting them into a fiery furnace, were ways used by the Chaldeans in putting persons to death (Dan.3:6); and roasting men at a fire was used by the Chinese.
*****Roasted in the fire . . . the Babylonian method of putting criminals to death was by casting them alive into the fiery furnace (Dan.3:6), but the Babylonians would hardly have put men to death for committing adultery . . . so Nebuchadnezzar probably put them to death for plotting a rebellion against Babylon.
The curse mentioned here is interesting. When the exiles would curse the greatest evil upon one whom they hated, the heaviest curse in the fewest words they could think of was, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and Ahab.
Jer. 29:23 Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD. (KJV)
Because they have committed villany in Israel . . . the reason given here must not be understood as the reason of the king of Babylon’s punishment of them, but instead, why God gave them up into his hands, was because they had committed wickedness and folly in Israel.
And have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives . . . all sin is folly, and so called in Scripture, and uncleanness particularly (Gen. 34:7). Here it is called villainy, to represent the wickedness of it. Especially to those whose office it was to teach others that they should not do it. Rom. 2:17-22 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? (KJV)
And have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them . . . the falsehood of a trust is usually joined with wickedness, and declaring things as being the will of God, when they know they are not so. The second crime of these false prophets was teaching people what God had NEVER told them to speak. Now this, saith the LORD,
Even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD . . . I know, and am a Witness. Their adulteries are in secret to man, but the LORD was a witness to them. The poor people do not know that they teach them lies, but God knows it. God will deal with men, not according to what men like themselves know of them, and can prove against them, but according to what the LORD knows and sees and can witness against them.
*****The evil men called themselves prophets but they did not live the holy set-aside life that was required of a TRUE prophet. In fact, they committed physical and spiritual adultery. They were not only full of lies, but they lied and said that God was speaking through them. God is the Witness against them. The wicked conduct they committed in Israel was probably sexual in nature. There is an important and sad addition to the knowledge of false prophets in Jer. 29:23, that being that they committed adultery. They were not only false and misleading prophets, they were immoral. This pattern in the lives of false teachers has continued all through history, including to our times.
Verses 24-32: The judgment against Shemaiah, the then unknown prophet, who opposed Jeremiah, was much like that experienced by Hananiah (Jer. 28:15-17).
Letter from Shemaiah, a False Prophet in Babylon, Written to the Priests at Jerusalem, to Stir Them to Persecute Jeremiah (Jer.29.24-29)
Jer. 29:24 Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, (KJV)
The LORD tells Jeremiah to respond to a letter of Shemaiah which had been directed to Zephaniah the priest, in Jerusalem. Nehelamite . . . a name coming either from his father or from a place; it also refers to the Hebrew meaning a dreamer (verse 8), which identifying Shemaiah as another false prophet, because he pretended to have dreams from the LORD, and what he delivered as prophecies were just his dreams, that the captives would quickly return to their own land. He was simply another of the false prophets in Babylon. This last part of this Chapter seems to be of a later date than the first part, and refers to what was done after the above letter of Jeremiah came to the captives in Babylon. And after, the return of the messengers from there, who brought the account on how it was received, and what irritation it gave to the false prophets.
Saying (as follows).
Jer. 29:25 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, (KJV)
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying . . . it is not clear why Jeremiah found it offensive that Shemaiah should write a letter in his own name, unless Jeremiah is angered that he, without divine instruction, would rebuke a TRUE prophet and demand that he be silenced.
Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem . . . not in the name of the captives, whom he did not consult, not with Ezekiel the prophet of the LORD, who was of the captivity (Eze.1:1). Shemaiah came in his own name, taking upon himself to direct and order what should be done in Jerusalem. These letters were sent, very probably, by the hands of the king's messengers, when they returned, whose names are mentioned in verse 3. Some of the letters were sent to the people, to set them against the prophet of the LORD, Jeremiah, that they might not pay attention to him nor give credit to him, and others to the priests, as follows:
And to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying . . . Zephaniah the priest was responsible for security in the Temple, as Pashhur had been (Jer.20:1). Zephaniah was later slain by Nebuchadnezzar at the capture of Jerusalem (2 Ki.25:18-21). Shemaiah addresses his letter to Zephaniah, maybe because he was responsible for Temple security, and because it was his brother Zedekiah whose doom Jeremiah had announced (verse 21); and as a result, would be more likely to take action against Jeremiah.
*****Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, was not the High Priest, but his Sagan or deputy, or the second priest, as he is called in Jer. 52:24. Seraiah was High Priest, unless Zephaniah had now become High Priest in his place. Maaseiah was either his parent, or else the head of that course to which Zephaniah belonged, as a common priest, which was the twenty fourth in order (1 Chr. 24:18).
Jeremiah had sent a letter to those in Babylon, speaking openly of terrible things about to take place. It seems that Shemaiah, a false prophet, reacted by sending letters to Jerusalem and to the priests. The worst part of the letters was that he used the LORD's Name in them, pretending that the LORD told him to send them. Zephaniah was supposed to read the letter to the priests, in the presence of all the people, in the Temple.
John 5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (KJV) . . . They did not believe Jesus, and they did not believe Jeremiah, but they believed Shemaiah.
Jer. 29:26 The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks. (KJV)
The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest . . . that is, High Priest, as some have thought, but it seems from (2 Ki.25:18), that Seraiah was at this time the High Priest. Zephaniah was the second priest, as he is there styled in Jer. 52:24. Zephaniah's promotion as second priest, was owing to Jehoiada's being then in exile, was unexpected. Shemaiah accuses him of ingratitude towards God, who had so highly exalted him before his regular time.
That ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for every man that is mad . . . you should, as having rule in the Temple (Jer.20:1), arrest every false prophet like Jeremiah.
The priests had power to restrain such persons by imprisoning them, or putting them in the stocks, by which most agree a particular punishment is expressed, but for the nature and way of it is not decided. Jeremiah is in this a type of Christ, against whom the same charge was brought. John 10:20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? (KJV)
And maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks . . . this was an attempt to have Jeremiah locked up as a mad man. Shemaiah thought if he sweet-talked the priest, he would do as he asked, telling him that: You have the authority, just lock Jeremiah up. According to: Deu.17:8-9 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; 9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: (KJV) . . . The priest was judge in such cases, but had no right to put into the stocks; this right Shemaiah had assumed to himself in the troubled state of the times.
Jer. 29:27 Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you? (KJV)
Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth . . . not by words only, but by actions. Shemaiah wanted the priest to beat and scourge Jeremiah, by ridicule or imprisonment, and restrain him from prophesying to the people.
Which maketh himself a prophet unto you? . . . for he takes upon him such an office, although he was not sent of the LORD, as he states.
*****This shows the arrogance, boldness and disrespect of the false prophets in Babylon. To assume such authority to themselves, to dictate to the High Priest, as some take him to be, or even the second priest. What Zephaniah should do, and to rebuke Jeremiah for, is not part of his office. This is spoken to the priest Zephaniah that took the place of Jehoiada. Shemaiah is accusing Jeremiah of being a self-appointed prophet.
Jer. 29:28 For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is long: build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. (KJV)
For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon . . . he, Jeremiah the prophet, because his mouth was not stopped, and restrained from prophesying, sent us to Babylon. Shemaiah lays all the blame on Zephaniah and his brethren the priests, who, had they done their duty, could have stopped Jeremiah's letter to the captives.
Saying, This captivity is long . . . it will be a long time before the captives shall return to their own land. And so, they should think of it, and provide for it, for their continuance in Babylon. Giving the following advice:
Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them . . . referring to Jeremiah's letter (verse 5). Shemaiah accused Jeremiah of something that the LORD Himself had put in Jeremiah's mouth. The accusation was Truth, because Jeremiah did say these things, or God did, through Jeremiah!
Jer. 29:29 And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet. (KJV)
And Zephaniah the priest read this letter . . . Zephaniah seems to have been less prejudiced against Jeremiah than the others were; so he reads the charge to the prophet. Zephaniah's apparent tolerance of, if not support for Jeremiah may have been why he was chosen by King Zedekiah to consult Jeremiah (Jer.21:1; 37:3). And too, since it is likely that Pashhur was deported to Babylon in 597 B.C., as Jeremiah had forewarned (Jer.20:6), Zephaniah may have feared a similar fate should he try to punish him.
In the ears of Jeremiah the prophet . . . whether out of good will, to let him know who his enemies abroad were, or out of ill will, to stir up the people against him, or in deceit of proceeding justice with him. He did not arrest him, nor punish him before he brought the accusation and charge against him. He made him aware of who his accusers were, and what evidence there was against him. It was by this means Jeremiah came to the knowledge of Shemaiah's letter. Instead of Zephaniah locking Jeremiah up as a mad man, he read him the letter.
Denunciation of God's Wrath Against
Him for Writing Such a Letter (Jer. 29:30-32)
Jer. 29:30 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah . . . after Jeremiah had heard the letter read.
Saying . . . as follows.
The LORD quickly replies to these false accusations against Jeremiah.
Jer. 29:31 Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie: (KJV)
Send to all them of the captivity . . . Jeremiah was to send another letter; not to Shemaiah, but to the people, that they all might know that he was a false prophet, and how his lies were hated by the LORD, and what punishment would be inflicted on him and his because of his dreadful lies.
Saying, thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite . . . the letter, although written by Jeremiah, must be sent in the Name of the LORD, declaring what He would do to Shemaiah, and the reason of it, which follows:
Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie . . . that they would in a very short time return from their captivity to Jerusalem.
Jer. 29:32 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the LORD; because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD . . . because Shemaiah prophesied without being sent by God, and prophesied lies, by which the people were deceived.
Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed . . . not only him, but his posterity also, for God sometimes visits the sins of parents on their children, they being a part of themselves, and often partners with them in their sins.
He shall not have a man to dwell among this people . . . either at Babylon, or at Jerusalem, where he had promised a speedy return.
Neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the LORD . . . by returning them, after seventy years captivity, to their own land, and to the enjoyment of all their privileges, civil and religious.
Because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD . . . or a departure from Him. Shemaiah taught men to rebel against God, and not listen to His prophets. They were to refuse to accept what God said by His prophets, concerning their continuance in Babylon, which is called a rebellion against the LORD. And being so wicked a crime, deserved the punishment sentenced on him and his. The LORD sees to it that rebels and their offspring are always punished.
*****Just about the worst thing that could happen to a Hebrew, was not to have sons to carry on the family name. Of course, this was not the only punishment spoken against Shemaiah. He would not live to see the return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Shemaiah was disclosed as a false prophet, because God did NOT send him. The reason for the punishment was that he taught rebellion against the LORD.
Consider that God pronounces a judgment against these false prophets. God speaks very clearly in history. He told Judah that what is happening to them is happening because of their sin. Dear one, God will always judge sin, because He has not changed, nor will He ever change!
Many people would like to think that the God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament . . . but He is the EXACT same Person! He has NOT changed one tiny bit. He has NOT grown old and lost His memory, and He has not learned any thing new, for He is omniscient (eternally all-knowing and all-seeing). He is the same God in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Not only has God spoken in history, but He speaks in His Word.
2 Pet. 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
2 Tim. 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)
No writing of Scripture was of private interpretation at its origin. The prophets who wrote and spoke in the old days are not giving you the result of their observations. They were speaking what God told them to speak.
When we approach God and His Holy Word, we must admit that we are nothing, that we all are sinners (Rom.3:10, 23). We must be willing cast off our opinions, our self-will and our sins, and carefully listen to what God has to say to us, and then obey Him! That was the problem with the priests, prophets and princes in Jeremiah's day, and it is our problem today. Every man has his own outlook on life, and carries his own protest, and does it with limited knowledge. Almighty God has all knowledge, has all the facts, and knows all things. It is sad to think that many people sit in judgment of this Almighty One. What bold arrogance and pride! BEWARE!
Book of Jeremiah
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