Babylon, or Bust

Jeremiah 26-29

Introduction: This chapter begins a section that is more biographical in nature. It starts with the early yeas of Jehoiakim. Other material on Jehoiakim has already occurred in chapters 11:1-13:14; 14:1-15:21; 16:1-17:2; 22:1-30; 23:1-8, 9-40; 25:1-14. We find in the beginning of this narrative that from very early in Jehoiakim’s reign Jeremiah experienced serious opposition. His words were interpreted and unpatriotic and treasonous.  

 

I.  Jeremiah is commanded to take a position in the court of the Temple and continue with unpopular message, one that he had begun during the reign of Josiah, although Josiah had initiated many reforms. This appears something of a flashback, for it occurred in the “beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim,  Jeremiah 25, during the fourth year of Jehoiakim, gave the prophecy of seventy years captivity.

A. The message of Jeremiah 26 began with a call repentance annexed to a message of hope.- He is commanded not to hold back a word of the Lord’s declaration. Only the full display of God’s revealed word will bring about the right kind of response. We must not seek to curry favor with people by omitting any portion of what God has revealed.

B.  Should they respond fittingly to the message as revealed By God, their disaster from the Lord’s hand still could be averted. Verse 3.  Our knowledge of the principle of divine sovereignty and his prerogative of election does not diminish the revealed truth that genuine repentance always brings an offender into the realm of God’s gracious provision for the forgiveness of sins. We earnestly hope that for the most destitute of sinners and for those that seem the most beyond hope. This proclamation is commanded to be given even though Jeremiah has been told not to pray for them.

C.  Their refusal to listen to the message of the prophets and their continued promotion of heartless surface formal worship would certainly bring God’s rendering them irrelevant for worship and bring a curse on them. They not only had the prophets ringing a message of warning in their ears, but they had the Law as a constant reminder of God’s expectation. 4-6.

 

II.                   Jeremiah provokes opposition– The false prophets’ hostile disagreement with Jeremiah over this - 26:7-24

A.  against the Priests and prophets; Their intent to charge him with a capital crime-26:7-11

B.  Jeremiah [12-15] defends himself by saying that his message was from the Lord and he reiterated the message of the necessity of repentance in order to escape the threatened disaster. They may do with him as they see fit, but they will have innocent blood on their hands, for he has not sought to incite rebellion but has only been faithful to his charge as a prophet.

C. Jeremiah’s life is spared

1.  Two anecdotes about the treatment of other prophets are told as Jeremiah’s guilt or innocence is considered. At this point the officials seem open to Jeremiah as giving a message that could save them. They refer to Hezekiah’s response to the prophecies of Micah of Moresheth. We have Micah’s prophecy among the minor prophets in the OT. Hezekiah’s response of repentance avoided the threat of disaster. This response to Jeremiah accentuates the tragedy of their continuing unrepentant life. They heard him with interest, they remembered the past, and still they did not repent.

2. The case of Uriah [20-23] could be given by those seeking Jeremiah’s protection as an example of a failure to listen to the same message and, therefore, they still re under the threat of invasion. Others believe that his is a word from the opposition stating the case that the king himself considers such a prophetic stance as worthy of death. Others think that this anecdote is inserted by the historian himself, Jeremiah or Baruch, in order to highlight how amazing a deliverance from death this was for Jeremiah. At any rate, God delivered Jeremiah through the favor of an official, Ahikam son of Shaphan.

 

III.                 Jeremiah Prophesies against the Nations –  Submit to Babylon

A.  Jeremiah is give a commission during the reign of Zedekiah to show the nations. Nebuchadnezzar, at the time of this prophecy, already has taken into captivity Jeconiah and many of the nobles and some of the material from the temple.

B.  All under the sovereignty of God  27:5, 6; Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar will rule until their time of judgment comes.

C.  Judah should submit to Babylon – 27:8-14; cf 21:8, 9

D.  Babylon will be punished  27:7, 8; 25:12-14

D.  Jeremiah warns against the prophets and priests that say the siege, captivity, and confiscation will soon be over. 27:16-22- Speaking the truth is not always a pleasant task, but is always the safest policy for everyone involved. The false prophets and conniving priests sought personal popularity through their assurances but actually were making the people susceptible to “sword, famine, and pestilence.” [8, 9] Concerning Jeremiah’s instruction to submit Matthew Henry commented, “Some would condemn this as the evidence of a mean spirit, but the prophet recommends it as that of a meek spirit, which yields to necessity, and by a quiet submission to the hardest turns of Providence makes the best of bad.”

IV.  Hananiah’s false prophecy and its results chapter 28 – Hananiah is an example of the kind of false prophecy that Jeremiah warned against. Jeremiah, still costumed with the straps and yoke that God instructed him to make and wear, now is challenged in the temple before the priests.

A. Hananiah prophesies that both the vessels of the temple and the royal family soon will be restored, and Nebuchadnezar’s power will be broken. My, how lovely this would have been. Just a short time of testing with full glory again in tact and the enemy put down.

B.  Jeremiah, sensing what a pleasant scenario Hananiah had set forth, gives sympathy to the prevailing sentiment shwing his own desire for the continued prosperity of Judah, [28:5,6] but then calls to mind the test of a true prophet, that is, does his prophecy actually come to pass. Jeremiah points to two conflicting streams of prophecy and asks the people to judge when Hananiah’s prophesied peace comes. [28:5-9]

C.  Hananiah seeks to match the drama of Jeremiah by removing the latter’s yokes and breaking them. Jeremiah simply left. He gave place to wrath and did not seek to answer on his own, but waited for a word from God. “If what we have spoken be the truth of God, we must not unsay it because men gainsay it” [Matthew Henry].

D.  Later the Lord instructed Jeremiah to go to Hananiah with a prophecy directly to him.

1.  The wooden yoke, broken by Hananiah, would become bars of iron.

2.  Hananiah, as a false prophet, would die within the year, because he had uttered rebellion against the Lord.

3.  This happened

 

V.  Jeremiah’s Letter to the Captives in Babylon (29:1-32)

A. The circumstances of the sending of Jeremiah’s letter (vv. 1-3)

1. to the “Surviving elders of the exiles”

2. It happened after the large deportation of Jeconiah, the queen mother, the royal court and officials, and a variety of skilled craftsmen.

B. The captives should plan to stay in Babylon for many years (vv. 4-7)

1. They were to treat this as home by building house, planting gardens.

2. They were to increase in population by marriage and fruitfulness.

3. They were to seek the welfare of the city through their industry and prayers. The city’s prosperity would be their prosperity. All of this is consistent with Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 2:1, 2.

C. Judah must refuse to listen to false prophets (vv. 8-9)

D. God’s promise of future blessing (vv. 10-14)

1. The exile will last for seventy years, then God will visit them with release. Verse 11 is a favorite “promise” verse.  One should look carefully at its context and see that the assurance is given specifically to Israel for their preservation in light of the necessity of fulfilling the Messianic promises through them.

2. Verse 13 f is in anticipation of the new covenant

E. Another warning against listening to false prophets and God’s judgment of them (vv. 15-32)

1.  Their attention to false prophets even in Babylon has increased the severity of judgment on the ones remaining in Jerusalem. None have responded to the true prophets, but al have embraced the demonstrably false words of the false prophets. Now even in Babylon, they still cling to falsehood in the face of the fulfillment of the message “that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen” [19]

2.  God gives the names of three of the false prophets along with judgments that he will bring on them.

a. Ahab and Zedekiah not only prophesied falsely but committed adultery with the neighbors wives. They were roasted by the king of Babylon in the fire. 21-23

b.  Shemaiah sent letters from Babylon seeking the instruct those that remained in Jerusalem concerning the priesthood and concerning Jeremiah. Even though he was in exile, he wanted them to rebuke Jeremiah for his letter instructing the exiles to settle down and live stable lives.

C. God instructed Jeremiah to write another letter. Shemaiah would die, all his descendants would die and none of them would see the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon.

VI.  Expansion

A.  Truly God’s word in like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rock. It outrages people and draws out the sinful opposition of those that do not receive its message of judgment and the exclusive rights of Jehovah, the triune God. This offense of the divine word continues through the New Testament cf. 2 Timothy 4; The reason for this is it probing nature and its thorough clarity concerning human sin and dependence, Hebrews 4:11-13. “Truth is bitter, and those preaching it are filled with bitterness. For with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth the Lord’s Passover is kept, and it is eaten with bitter herbs. [Jerome “Against Jovinianus.” ACC, 196]

B.  In the midst of very disturbing and restrictive providences, we still may exhibit a trust in God through meek submission to the yoke placed on us, combined with effort to be stewards of the resulting condition.

C.  Modern prosperity preachers make promises of temporal blessings, both material and emotional/mental, or physical healing without any sobriety about the sinfulness of the human heart and the necessity of repentance and a new heart towards God. The gospel concerning the redemptive suffering of Christ is minimized for the promise of immediate pleasure through a positive expectation of worldly advantage. A promise of peace without the great work of redemption is false prophecy. “False prophets always promise pleasant things and please for a time.” [Jerome, “Against Jovinianus.” ACC, 196]