Jeremiah 29 Jeremiah’s Letter, And More False Prophets.
The time of the letter appears to be to those who had experienced the first (605 BC), and second (597 BC) waves of the exile. Far from any promise of a soon return, in the letter the LORD spells out what they should set about doing while in exile (vv. 1-4). They were to be fruitful and multiply (vv. 5-7a). They were to seek and pray for the peace of the city where the LORD had caused them to be carried away. “Peace is the chief covenantal blessing. The peace lightly promised by the false prophets (8:11) gives way to a true peace. The LORD’s blessing can come on any nation through the prayer and action of His people; compare Abraham (Gen. 20:17), Joseph (Gen. 37-50), and Daniel (Dan. 1-6).” (NGSB. 1198) This is an important point, the power was not with the King of Babylon, but their sovereign LORD in his providence brought them to where they now dwelt. For this reason the LORD reiterates that they must not listen to the false prophets or diviners seeking to deceive them with their “dreams” (vv. 7b-8). They have not been sent by him (v. 9).
The chronicler notes that this seventy years is so that the land can enjoy its Sabbaths (36:20). Then they would be returned to Jerusalem, although still in exile as it were, under a foreign ruler (v. 10 Cf. 25:12; 27:22; II Chr. 36:21-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Dan. 9:2; Zech. 7:5). They were a remnant (Cf. Zeph. 2:7). To the remnant down through the ages, the words delivered to this remnant also ring true. “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (v. 11). It is when the LORD is with his people of the covenant he has established, that they will call upon him, pray, and he will listen to them (v. 12), if they seek and search for him “with all their heart” (v. 13). It is then that he will be found, and they will be brought back from their captivity (v. 14). So the promise is that after seventy years their captivity would end, but it would be for the remnant who seeks him in prayer. However, those who believe in the lies of the false prophets would be cursed (vv. 15-20).
Covenantal cursing is for all those who fail to heed the words of the LORD, which he has sent by his servants the prophets (v. 19). In a fresh word to the exiles in captivity, he warns them that Kolaiah and Zedekiah, who were preaching lies to them in the name of the LORD, would be cursed for doing so, being roasted in fire by the king of Babylon (vv. 21-22). They were also guilty of committing adultery with their neighbour’s wives. Cursing comes in a covenantal context, with the LORD himself as chief witness (v. 23). There is also a special word for one Shemaiah, who of his own imagination bore false witness ordering Maaseiah and all the priests, to usurp Jehoiada the priest and put him in stocks, presumably because he was following the word of the LORD through Jeremiah, for the exiles to be fruitful and multiply in their captivity, because it would be long (vv. 24-28 Cf. v. 5). In response to this, the word of the LORD through Jeremiah was that Shemaiah was also a false prophet, not sent, also speaking a lie. For this reason he was also to be punished for inciting rebellion (vv. 29-32).