Jer. 26:1–29:32 Jer. 29:1-4,5-14 July 24 2011
The contest between Jeremiah and the false prophets was carried on before by preaching, here by writing; there 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, A letter which Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon, against their prophets that they had there , in which letter, He endeavours to reconcile them to their captivity, to be easy under it and to make the best of it . He cautions them not to give any credit to their false prophets, who fed them with hopes of a speedy release . He assures them that God would restore them in mercy to their own land again, at the end of 70 years . He foretels the destruction of those who yet continued, and that they should be persecuted with one judgment after another, and sent at last into captivity . He prophesies the destruction of two of their false prophets that they had in Babylon, that both soothed them up in their sins and set them bad examples , and this is the purport of Jeremiah’s letter. II. Here is a letter which Shemaiah, a false prophet in Babylon, wrote to the priests at Jerusalem, to stir them up to persecute Jeremiah , and a denunciation of God’s wrath against him for writing such a letter . Such struggles as these have there always been between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
1. We are here told, (Jeremiah 29: 1-4)
Jer 29:1 And these are words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the remnant of the elders of the removal, and unto the priests, and unto the prophets, and unto all the people—whom Nebuchadnezzar removed from Jerusalem to Babylon, 2 After the going forth of Jeconiah the king, and the mistress, and the officers, heads of Judah and Jerusalem, and the artificer, and the smith, from Jerusalem— 3 By the hand of Eleasah son of Shaphan, and Gemariah son of Hilkijah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon—to Babylon, saying, 4‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, to all the removal that I removed from Jerusalem to Babylon,
The written word of God is as truly given by inspiration of God as his spoken word. The zealous servant of the Lord will use every means to profit those who are far off, as well as those who are near him. The art of writing is very profitable for this end; and by the art of printing it is rendered most beneficial for circulating the knowledge of the word of God. God’s sending to the captives by this letter would show that he had not forsaken them, though he was displeased, and corrected them. If they live in the fear of God, they may live comfortably in Babylon. In all conditions of life, it is our wisdom and duty not to throw away the comfort of what we may have, because we have not all we would have. They are directed to seek the good of the country where they were captives. While the king of Babylon protected them, they must live quiet and peaceable lives under him, in all godliness and honesty; patiently leaving it to God to work deliverance for them in due time.
2. To make the people quiet and easy in their captivity,( Jeremiah 29:5-14)
Jer 29:5 Build ye houses, and abide; and plant ye gardens, and eat their fruit; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take for your sons wives, and your daughters give to husbands, and they bear sons and daughters; and multiply there, and ye are not few; 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have removed you, and pray for it unto Jehovah, for in its peace ye have peace.8‘For thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, Let not your prophets who are in your midst, and your diviners, lift you up, nor hearken ye unto their dreams, that ye are causing them to dream; 9 For with falsehood they are prophesying to you in My name; I have not sent them, an affirmation of Jehovah.
10‘For thus said Jehovah, Surely at the fulness of Babylon—seventy years—I inspect you, and have established towards you My good word, to bring you back unto this place. 11 For I have known the thoughts that I am thinking towards you—an affirmation of Jehovah; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give to you posterity and hope.12‘And ye have called Me, and have gone, and have prayed unto Me, and I have hearkened unto you, 13 And ye have sought Me, and have found, for ye seek Me with all your heart; 14 And I have been found of you—an affirmation of Jehovah; and I have turned back to your captivity, and have gathered you out of all the nations, and out of all the places whither I have driven you—an affirmation of Jehovah—and I have brought you back unto the place whence I removed you.
Let men beware how they call those prophets whom they choose after their own fancies, and how they consider their fancies and dreams to be revelations from God. False prophets flatter people in their sins, because they love to be flattered; and they speak smoothly to their prophets, that their prophets may speak smoothly to them. God promises that they should return after seventy years were accomplished. By this it appears, that the seventy years of the captivity are not to be reckoned from the last captivity, but the first. It will be the bringing to pass of God’s good word to them. This shall form God’s purposes. We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God’s designs are all against us; but as to his own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end he has promised, which will be the best for them. When the Lord pours out an especial spirit of prayer, it is a good sign that he is coming toward us in mercy. Promises are given to quicken and encourage prayer. He never said, Seek ye me in vain. Those who remained at Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, notwithstanding what the false prophets said to the contrary. The reason has often been given, and it justifies the eternal ruin of impenitent sinners; Because they have not hearkened to my words; I called, but they refused.
Jeremiah’s conflict with false prophets continues. A pseudo-prophet named Hananiah breaks the wooden yoke Jeremiah is wearing to symbolize submission to Babylon and announces that God will even send Judah’s captives home within two years . God tells Jeremiah to forge a yoke of iron to symbolize His unalterable intention to judge Judah—and to announce that Hananiah will die within the year. And he does! Jeremiah then sends a letter to the elders among the exiles in Babylon, telling them to settle down and prepare for a lengthy stay . Another prophetic word of judgment is directed against false prophets in the captive Jewish community . A special word of condemnation is directed against Shemaiah, who had written from Babylon urging the Jerusalem authorities to silence Jeremiah . The false prophets may outnumber Jeremiah and may outshout him as well. But God has not sent them, He will surely judge them as well as the people who are so eager to be deceived.