Jeremiah 32:26-44 A Physical And Spiritual Return.

Jeremiah 32:26-44 A Physical And Spiritual Return.

In his word to Jeremiah the LORD declares that he is sovereign over all flesh, so that the coming captivity by Babylon is of his doing, because of the idolatry of his covenanted people, leaders including priests and prophets, and the people (vv. 26-32).They turned their back on the LORD, even though he taught them from their beginnings. Idols in the house of the LORD were an abomination, as well as the high places of Baal where they caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech (vv. 33-35). However, the judgment would not last forever. A remnant would return physically and spiritually, as a planting of the LORD, with their hearts in covenant fidelity to the LORD, in an everlasting covenant as his people, and he their God (vv. 36-41). Then land will be bought, with deeds signed and sealed with witnesses, because they will have hope and a future on earth (vv. 42-44).

Jeremiah 32:1-25 Jeremiah Buys A Field And Prays To The LORD.

Jeremiah 32:1-25 Jeremiah Buys A Field And Prays To The LORD.

The tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign, would put this passage at 597 B.C., the time of the second of three waves of exile (v. 1). King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, as Jeremiah was shut up in Zedekiah’s court, in his house (v. 2), because he had predicted the captivity, and the capture and exile of Zedekiah himself (vv. 3-5). It is in this context that Jeremiah is presented with a real estate opportunity. One might imagine that this would hardly be the time to consider buying property, but it is the LORD who gives Jeremiah a heads up about his uncle Shallum’ son Hanamel presenting him with the option of exercising his right of redemption to buy his field. Hanamel, like Boaz’s kin, was telling Jeremiah that he was next in line to redeem the property as his right of inheritance (vv. 6-8a Cf. Ruth 4:4 Cf. Lev. 25:25). There were clearly still Israelites who were committed to living under the rule of the law-word of the covenant. Jeremiah then “knew that this was the word of the LORD” (v. 8b).

Jeremiah redeemed the field that was in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin, “signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales,” of 17 shekels of silver (vv. 9-10). We are then told that Jeremiah took both the sealed deed (according to custom and law), and the open (purchase) deed, and gave them to one Baruch in the presence of Hanamel and the other witnesses who also had signed the deed, before everyone in the court of the prison (vv. 11-12). Then he charged Baruch to put them in an earthen vessel, no doubt to ensure that they would be preserved until the time that he would be freed from prison (vv. 13-14). This was all an act of faith by Jeremiah, as a result of the promise in the covenant of inheritance in the land. “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.’” (v. 15) When he thus delivered the deeds to Baruch he then prayed (v. 16).

Jeremiah addresses the LORD first of all as the sovereign creator and sustainer of the whole of creation, saying that nothing was too hard for him (v. 17 Cf. II Kgs 19:15; Lk. 18:27). The LORD’s lovingkindness refers to his commitment in the covenantal bond – to thousands (v. 18a Cf. Dt. 5:9-10). However, he also repays the iniquity of apostates in the covenant, including their children who they represent in the covenant. This is why Jeremiah refers to God “the Great, the mighty God whose name is the LORD of hosts” (v. 18b Cf. 10:16; Is. 9:6). The LORD is great and mighty in both word and deed (v. 19), for his “eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.” (v. 19) There is a great deal of theology in Jeremiah’s address to the LORD. He addresses the LORD as the one whose counsel is our guide (Cf. Is. 28:29). The LORD sees everything (Cf. Prov. 5:21), and based on this knowledge, judges (Cf. 17:10).

Jeremiah confesses that the LORD made a name for himself, so to speak, with signs and wonders of redemption for his people, going back to the exodus from Egypt, filling their enemies with terror (vv. 20-21). Again Jeremiah refers to the land being promised, of which the people took possession for the LORD (vv. 22-23a), but they failed to obey the law-word of the covenant, as the fitting response to being redeemed (v. 23b). The siege of the city was taking place, just as the LORD had spoken to and through Jeremiah (v. 24). In contrast to Jeremiah, who as the leader of the faithful remnant redeemed a field of inheritance, the apostates in the city wanted to LORD to do the same for it and them – yet the city was “given into the hand of the Chaldeans” (v. 25). So the LORD’s response to Jeremiah encapsulated the situation of this entire period, which was one of covenant lawsuit judgment and curse upon the apostates, but the promise of redemption for the remnant.

Jeremiah 31:31-40 New Covenant Hope – Buy A Field.

Jeremiah 31:31-40 New Covenant Hope – Buy A Field.

In this chapter Jeremiah has written about how in the midst of the LORD’s covenant lawsuit against the nation, he chose to spare a remnant who would one day return, that in them there would be a “home of justice, and mountain of holiness” (v. 23), because they had “found grace in the wilderness” (v. 2). Jeremiah was called for a twofold purpose – “to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (1:10). This all would depend on whether the recipients of his words would repent and have faith (18:1-11). Ultimately God is the potter fashioning the clay as he sees fit, but those destined for destruction regarded this as hopeless saying, “we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart” (18:12). God predestines through means, so it is ironic that apostates thus testify to the means of their own end. Now that the story has progressed we get an even clearer picture of what was transpiring. As the apostates were being plucked up, broken down, thrown down, and destroyed, the LORD was also bringing the remnant through affliction to be built and planted by him (31:28).

This is the context within which the promise of a new covenant is given – old covenant lawsuit, and new covenant renewal. It is the LORD who would make this new covenant, not according to the old covenant made with the fathers, which they broke, even though he was as a husband to them (vv. 29-32). Instead, in the new covenant the LORD would put his “law in their minds, and write it on their hearts,” and so would fulfill the goal of the covenant relationship – that he would be their God and they his people (v. 33). All shall know the LORD because he would forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more (v. 34). The covenant LORD is the creator and sustainer of the whole of creation, and the promise to Israel to have a godly seed, hearkening back to Genesis 3:15, would remain as sure as the foundations of the created order itself (vv. 35-37). There was a day coming when the LORD would build a city where he could dwell, that would not be plucked up or thrown down, but would be “holy to the LORD” (vv. 38-40). With this promise, Jeremiah does not retreat and wait to go to heaven, but instead he buys a field, planting his flag for the LORD (32:1ff.).

Jeremiah 31:1-30 A Remnant Is Saved.

Jeremiah 31:1-30 A Remnant Is Saved.

At the same time as the events depicted in chapter 30, of captivity, judgment on apostates, and a judgment on those who oppressed during the captivity, there would be a remnant within the covenanted nation whom the LORD would discipline but spare. These are those who survived the sword and “found grace in the wilderness,” and rest (vv. 1-2). It was not of their own effort or volition, but rather, out of his everlasting love that he drew them with lovingkindness (v. 3). It is the LORD who would rebuild them into something beautiful, with joy (v. 4). Then they will fulfill the creation mandate, being fruitful stewards in a land of their own (v. 5). There would be a call to worship (v. 6). They knew that it was the LORD God alone who could save (v. 7). A remnant would be gathered from among the scattered (v. 8). They would come weeping to the Father, with supplications (v. 9). The LORD would be their shepherd (v. 10), for it is he who would redeem and ransom them, from the hand of one stronger than he” (v. 11).

They would go from sorrow to singing of the covenantal blessings, because of the goodness of the LORD (vv. 11-12). There would be rejoicing instead of sorrow, because the LORD would comfort them (vv. 13-14). They were commanded to refrain from weeping, because their work would be rewarded, and they would have a blessed future for their children (vv. 15-17). They would return because it is the LORD who would restore them (v. 18). The LORD would have mercy on his repented ones (vv. 19-20). The LORD was creating a new thing in the earth (vv. 21-22). Blessing would show in justice and holiness in the land (vv. 21-24), for the LORD had satiated and “replenished every sorrowful soul” (v. 25). That which Jeremiah had received in a dream, made his sleep sweet (v. 26). The LORD himself would sow them in the land, and instead of plucking up, breaking down, throwing away, destroying and afflicting, he would build and plant them in the promised land (vv. 27-28). There would be individual judgment within the covenanted community (vv. 29-30).

Jeremiah 30 The Promise Of Restoration.

Jeremiah 30 The Promise Of Restoration.

In the beginning verses of this chapter we find the clear affirmation that Jeremiah is the author of this book, so that not only did he deliver that which he had received from the LORD, but by the LORD’s own command, he wrote it down for himself first of all, but also for all who would follow after. He wrote the words God spoke (vv. 1-2). So why did the LORD want his words written in a book? Well, one reason was to prove to those who would eventually return from captivity, that it was the sovereign LORD who promised to bring them back. This would also offer the canonical proof that Jeremiah was a true prophet. Just as importantly, it would offer to those in exile the assurance that the Sovereign LORD of history was in charge, even in their captivity (v. 3a). Finally, it is to show to all who read these words that there is a purpose and flow to the story of redemption, the unifying growth of the salvation history of his people (v. 3b).

It is tragic if any who read the bible do not capture the unity of the salvation message through history. There are two dangers when reading the bible, one is to flatten all the words and events so as to give the impression that the seed promise of redemption at Genesis 3:15 was from the beginning a full grown tree. The progression of the promise has come in stages, all of which are important to understand. However, by the same token we must not miss the one unifying theme that was first expressed in seed form in that first promise – there would be a battle between two seeds, but that the kingdom of the seed of promise is the one which shall ultimately restore to humanity, and the whole of creation, the place originally intended, which is to be in true covenant fellowship with the sovereign LORD. In Jeremiah’s day it was a word to both Israel and Judah (v. 4), that it was ultimately the LORD who sent them into captivity but that he would also deliver them from it.

The people needed to understand that the peace of the LORD’s kingdom, was one that they would only enjoy, for a time, in captivity. As in the time of Jesus’ advent, there were many who could only imagine the establishment of the kingdom by the edge of the sword. The realization that they were going into exile as the LORD purposed it, was so painful that it was as if the men were in the pains of childbirth, but it would be out of this “time of Jacob’s trouble” that his covenant people would be saved (vv. 5-7 Cf. v. 18; 4:31; 6:24; 29:14; 32:44; Ezek. 39:25; Zeph. 3:20). Jeremiah earlier spoke and wrote of this flow of salvation history, the organic growth as it were, continuing through many changing circumstances. The return would be looked upon as the new exodus (16:15 Cf. Ezek. 20:42; 36:24). Each new event in this salvation history becomes one that there is nothing else like it up to that time (v. 7 Cf. Lam. 1:12; Dan. 9:12; 12:1).

In the day of the LORD, when deliverance from captivity would come, the yoke, symbolized by the actual yoke that Jeremiah bore, of their bondage to foreigners, would be broken (v. 8). The deliverance had one primary purpose, to enable the people to better “serve the LORD their God” (v. 9a). Their service was, as it has always been and ever shall be, to be true image bearers for the Creator, to fulfill the original cultural or creation mandate of Genesis 1:26-31. They served as stewards of the LORD in the land of their captivity, for no outward circumstances can ever nullify this overarching mandate, but they would better fulfill their callings in a land they could call their own. However, they must surely have paused, as we must, at the words that follow, that they would not only “serve the LORD their God,” but also “David their king (v. 9b). David had been dead and buried for some time now, as was the majesty of his reign.

The king they were to serve alongside the LORD, whom the LORD would raise up, could be none other than the seed first promised in Genesis 3:15. This is the one spoken of by Isaiah when he wrote that the LORD said, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and commander for the people.” (55:3-4) So also Ezekiel later goes with this messianic flow, speaking of a greater than David to come (34:23). They would have one shepherd, and be faithful to the word of the LORD (37:24). As Hosea put it, this would happen “in the latter days” (3:5). It is a promise that Luke picked up on in the prophecy of Zacharias, as coming to fulfillment in the person of Jesus the Christ (1:69). In fact, it was a promise which David himself prophesied about (Acts 2:25-36). It is this promise of a seed, that continued through successive covenantal administrations, the last of the old being David (Acts 13:23).

As any serious student of the scriptures knows, the LORD God places extreme significance on the importance of names, including his own. This is why it is significant to note that in verse 10 the servant Jacob is not to fear, that he who wrestled with the pre-incarnate promised Seed and was then named Israel, was to be the head through whom the promised seed and hope would come, and for this reason they should not be dismayed, because the sovereign LORD would save them and their seed (v. 10a). It was a promise both to Jacob personally, and to the nation of Israel as a whole (v. 10b). The goal of the covenantal bond was always that the promised seed would be the promise of his presence ‘with’ them. The nations where they had been scattered would be brought to an end, as would apostates within the covenanted community, but within that church or assembly, God would save a remnant, which would include disciplining them (vv. 11-15).

God in his sovereign purposes used the nations into which the nation had been taken captive, but this was not a free pass to do as they pleased. For this reason, these nations would be the ones to be devoured and taken captive, plundered and preyed upon (v. 16). The healing of the captives would come about because their captors mocked them saying, “This is Zion; no one seeks her” (v. 17). It is because of the LORD’s mercy that they would rebuild the city and the palace as planned (v. 18). Therefore the only appropriate response to this mercy was thanksgiving and joy (v. 19a), and they would be blessed with godly seed in order to fulfill the original mandate to be fruitful and to multiply (v. 19b). It is the LORD himself who will establish his congregation or church, and included will be their nobles and political leaders, represented in the governor, who will pledge his own heart to the LORD (vv. 20-21).

All this would take place as the fulfillment of that chief covenantal purpose and promise, that they would be his people, and he their God (v. 22). These events at this stage in salvation history would come like a “whirlwind of the LORD, going forth with fury, sweeping across all the earth to “fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart.” (vv. 23-24a). As with humans, so also in the anthropomorphic language used here, the heart refers to the core or heart of the covenant LORD’s sovereign purpose to have a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, working and praying that his kingdom would come, and his will done on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, our God, the biblical God, gets angry, but unlike it so often is with humans after the fall, it is not sinful. This would be the focus of the “latter days” of the old covenant administration (v. 24b).

Jeremiah 29 Jeremiah’s Letter, And More False Prophets.

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).

Jeremiah 28 Hananiah’s Falsehood And Doom.

Jeremiah 28 Hananiah’s Falsehood And Doom.

Prophets, unlike the other offices of priest and king, did not automatically get passed down to  the next generation, so that their descendants just took over from the ministry of a parent. Prophets were those who were entrusted with receiving and then giving the very words of God. They were chosen and called directly by the LORD, men and women. In this story about Hananiah, we see that he is not referred to initially as a prophet, but rather as “the son of Azur the prophet” (v. 1). For anyone familiar with the above, hearing that he was the son of a prophet would raise the question – “So what?” Being the son of a prophet meant nothing as far as their own calling or lack thereof. Nevertheless, he was not afraid to speak to Jeremiah, one who was a true prophet, in the presence of the priests and all the people, as though he were a prophet. He no doubt knew the right words to speak, and so he said, “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,” and in so doing bears false witness from the very beginning (v. 2a).

Hananiah spoke a message that the nation’s leaders and people wanted to hear, that the LORD had “broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (v. 2b). This speech took place in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, among those who had not yet followed the others into exile, for the exile occurred in stages. So the people could not verify that the yoke had in fact been broken as they couldn’t check their smart phones or turn on a TV. Had they been able to do so, they might have seen the beginnings of the collapse of the king’s reign. Hananiah knew that when it came to predicting the future, the sine qua non of a true prophet was that everything they uttered must come to pass. To this end he stated what he said were the very words of the LORD that “within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house” (v. 3). In so doing he was feeding the belief that they had in the viability of the temple itself, as though somehow the LORD of hosts was bound to it. This was a lie which Jeremiah had earlier exposed (Ch. 7).*

Not only did Hananiah say that the LORD said he would restore the temple ministry, but he also said that the LORD would restore Judah’s monarchy (v. 4). Now that Hananiah had spoken as one claiming to be a prophet, he would be referred to as such, and be made subject to the tests that any true prophet must pass. Hence also Jeremiah’s sarcastic ‘Amen!’ The fact was that Jeremiah himself would have loved nothing better than to see Hananiah’s words fulfilled, but as one who stood in the LORD’s council, and who had actually received his words from the LORD, he knew that Hananiah was speaking lies (vv. 5-6). To this end Jeremiah reminds the people of the prophetic and canonical test, that a prophet’s prediction must come to pass (vv. 7-9 Cf. Dt. 18:22). It is important that one also not miss the word ‘sent’, for a true prophet was one who was sent out from the council presence of the LORD. We should also not forget that all this time Jeremiah was walking around with a yoke on his neck, to symbolize the exile, as the LORD commanded (27:2).

To add his own drama to the occasion, Hananiah took the yoke off Jeremiah’s back and broke it, symbolizing his false message that the King of Babylon’s yoke on them would be as well (vv. 10-11a). “And the prophet Jeremiah went his way” (v. 11b). It was time for another word from the LORD to Jeremiah, a word to Hananiah himself. That word was that the yoke of wood would be replaced by a yoke of iron, that such would be the rule of Nebuchadnezzar over all the nations, including Judah (vv. 12-14). Jeremiah had been sent by the LORD once again, and he called Hananiah out as one who had not been sent, and instead he sought to “make this people trust in a lie” (v. 15). Therefore, the LORD would not wait for the false two years of Hananiah, during which time the people would perish in believing the lie, but instead the LORD would take his life that very year, for his lie was also teaching rebellion against the LORD of hosts (v. 16). “So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.” (v. 17)

*“Since just over four years had already passed (v. 1), Hananiah predicts they will be gone no more than seven years. Contrast Jeremiah’s seventy years (25:11, 12).” (NGSB. 1197) Seven being a biblical number for perfection or fulfillment, also makes Hananiah’s death in the seventh month ironic.

Jeremiah 27 The Bonds And Yokes Of Exile.

Jeremiah 27 The Bonds And Yokes Of Exile.

These events occurred in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign (v. 1a 593 B.C. Cf. vv. 3, 12). The majority of the texts are consistent with the reference to Jehoiakim here being a copyist’s error in the MT (Masoretic text). It would appear that the copyist was influenced by 26:1, when the real comparison is with 28:1, which is what places it in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. He was another son of Josiah (1 Chr. 3:15). Again, this is a word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, telling him and others, to make for themselves “bonds and yokes” to put them on Jeremiah’s neck, and send them to the kings of Edom, Moab, Tyre, and Sidon by the hand of the messengers who came to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah (vv. 1b-4 Cf. 25:21-22). These messengers probably “had come to discuss rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, in league with Egypt.” (NGSB. 1196)

Accompanying the bonds and yokes was the message for their masters that they were to take from the LORD through Jeremiah – a command actually, the LORD of hosts saying, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me” (v. 5). For the LORD at this time, it seemed proper to him to give it all to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, his “servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given to serve him. So all the nations shall serve him and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.” (vv. 6-7). The LORD God controls history, and everything he has made in the whole of heaven and earth. Whether national leaders choose to recognize it or not, they all exist to serve him.

Nebuchadnezzar was chosen to carry forward the cultural creation mandate first given to Adam, with the added consequence of the fall (Gen. 1:26; 2:8; 3). As he served the LORD, the animals and other nations would serve him. Sin is what brings the bonds and yokes of foreign rule. All who rejected or rebelled against the LORD’s servant, he would punish “with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand” (v. 8). There were but two options, serve the one raised up by the LORD, or be destroyed. We then come to the crux of the matter, when we meet the ‘therefore’ of verse nine, and ask ourselves what is the ‘therefore’ there for? Therefore, since the LORD is sovereign over all, it is futile for a person or a people to revert to their pagan sources of revelation to divine the present and the future. Present actions are the prologue of the future.

Their rebellion is what determined their future. This is not a mystery. But they did not like the message they heard through Jeremiah, so they turned to their false prophets, who are grouped together with the pagan diviners, dreamers, soothsayers, and sorcerers who, to keep their own employment, delivered a message of peace, when there would be no peace. In collectively saying that the nation would not serve the king of Babylon, they were preaching a lie. In fact, these persons were working for their adversary, for they prophesied this lie to remove them from the land, all according to the sovereign activity of the LORD of hosts (vv. 9-10). Those speaking the lie to them would, by the sovereign will and purpose of the LORD, “remain in their own land, and they shall till it and dwell in it” (v. 11). In other words, these nations would fulfill the cultural mandate, however imperfectly.

Zedekiah was commanded to lead the nation by submitting to “the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people if they wanted to live (v. 12). As already noted, any who rebelled would die “by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence” (v. 13 Cf. v. 8). Jeremiah then returns to focus on that one biblical office which did speak, at times, concerning the future, namely the prophets, in this case the false prophets (v. 14a Cf. 23:9ff.; 26). Not only were they preaching a lie (v. 14b), but they had not been sent from the LORD’s council presence (v. 15 Cf. 23:21-22). Nevertheless, it was that very preaching of the lie from these false prophets that the LORD of hosts used to help drive the people out of the land, and to their own shared destruction (v. 15). The prophets were to be the vehicle for the giving of the word of the LORD. The false prophets claimed this but instead preached a lie.

The priests, on the other hand, refers to those who were the minsters of word and sacrament, called to teach and expound the word that was given. To them, and the people, the LORD, through the true prophet Jeremiah, were commanded to not listen to the false prophets. They are not the LORD’s prophets, but are referred to as “your prophets,” those they had accepted without divine approbation (v. 16a). The vessels leaving the temple were symbolic of the departure of the LORD from them, along with their own exile. The false prophets preached that these vessels would return from Babylon, when in fact it is they who would follow the vessels (v. 16b). They were commanded not to listen to the false prophets, but instead to serve the king of Babylon, if they wanted to live (v. 17). Sometimes the church is called to live as a remnant under a yoke.

The exile happened in stages, so it would appear that the false prophets were given the opportunity to predict that the vessels that remained would not be taken, as a test as to whether they were true prophets (v. 18). This test goes back to the law, and was also a prerequisite for inclusion in the canon of scripture. “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Dt. 18:21-22). Of course, if a sign or wonder did come to pass, but they were being led into idolatry, then that would also prove a prophet’s falsehood, and a barring of entry into the canon (Dt. 13:2).

In the next chapter we come to a case in point, in the dispute between Jeremiah and Hananiah (v. 9). However, the remaining vessels being referred to here, would either not be taken and those already taken returned, or else the reality of both would prove to be a double witness against the prophets that they were false. It may be the case that the LORD only needs to speak or act once, but the biblical pattern is that, since his word ultimately concerns matters of life and death, that he chose to follow the pattern he himself established, of two or three witnesses (v. 19 Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15). The vessels and the people  would remain in exile until the LORD would later “visit” them. Then he would “bring them up and restore them to this place” (vv. 20-22). In other words, they were given a test in their immediate present, that would be indicative of their future.

Jeremiah 26 A Case Against Jeremiah For The Word Delivered.

Jeremiah 26 A Case Against Jeremiah For The Word Delivered.

“‘In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah’” possibly his first year (609-608 B.C.).” (NGSB. 1195) Again, Jeremiah didn’t conjure something up in a dream of his own imagination rather, “this word came from the LORD” (v. 1). Jeremiah was called to preach this word standing “in the court of the LORD’s house” (v. 2a). This was a message directed to the covenanted community which “came to worship in the LORD’s house” (v. 2b). It is an echo of chapter seven, where the LORD’s house would become their house, because of their sinful rebellion. In this preamble we also learn something about the word which Jeremiah was called to both preach and put into writing. He had the solemn duty to preach all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to them, to not diminish a single word. Therefore we see here that the biblical understanding of the inspiration of the inerrant, infallible word of the LORD God includes every word, and that the message of truth cannot be separated from the words that were given (v. 2c). Paul echoed this truth in his exhortation to the Ephesians saying that he had “not shunned to declare” to them “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Jeremiah was presented with a hope that the people might in fact repent of their evil doings, so that the LORD would relent in his judgment upon them (v. 3). One of the things that showed Jeremiah to be a true prophet was that he called the people to follow the words of the law and the prophets already given (v. 4). Like Jeremiah, Moses and the prophets were the servants of the LORD who were sent out of his heavenly council chamber to preach the word, “rising up early and sending them,” that is, before their day began, and the events that would transpire that day, but they had not heeded this word (v. 5). Because of this rebellion on their part we see the transition of ownership of the house, the LORD’s house now becoming “this house” becoming like Shiloh, and “this city a curse.” This is a covenantal curse upon his covenanted nation, and because they were cursed, they would be “a curse to all the nations” (v. 6). The leadership and the people heard these words, and instead of repenting, they seize Jeremiah with the intent of putting him to death because of the word preached (vv. 7-9). The princes came from their house to the LORD’s house, and sat down at “the New Gate of the LORD’s house” (v. 10 Cf. Ru. 4:1; Pr. 31:23).

In sitting down at the gate, these politicians signaled that a court session was called, because the religious leadership of the apostate priests and false prophets, had determined that Jeremiah should be executed (vv. 10-11). Jeremiah, in his own defense, reiterates that he was only being faithful to the LORD in preaching the message which the LORD sent him to preach (v. 12). Furthermore, being less concerned about his own possible end, he continued to preach a message of repentance, that if they were to amend their ways, doings, “and obey the voice of the LORD” their God, then the LORD would “relent concerning the doom that He” had pronounced against them (vv. 13-14). Finally, Jeremiah tells them if they do decide to kill him, they would also be guilty of shedding innocent blood (v. 15). Then we come upon the startling words to conclude this case, namely that the politicians, with the people, declared to the apostate religious leadership that Jeremiah did not deserve to die, stating that he had every right to speak, as Jeremiah claimed, as one who spoke to  them in the name of the LORD God (v. 16).

How astonishing that the politicians, along with the people, were actually reprimanding the religious leadership for bringing forth these unwarranted charges! Then, at this critical juncture in the case, certain immediate representatives of the people, that is some elders, “rose up and spoke to all the people,” raising the example of one Micah of Moresheth, who also had a message of doom and repentance, and that he was not put to death for it (vv. 17-19a Cf. Mic. 1:1; 3:12).* Furthermore, the people listened to Micah ‘and the LORD relented concerning the doom which he had pronounced,’” also echoing words from Jeremiah previously, and the law and history that preceded him (v. 19b Cf. 18:18; Ex. 32:14; II Sam. 24:16). Not only this, but in rejecting Jeremiah’s message, they were told that they were only bringing great evil upon themselves (v. 19c). These are essentially witnesses who were brought forth to support Jeremiah’s innocence. A second example is also given of another man named Urijah who also “prophesied in the name of the LORD,” a message of judgment and repentance against the city and the land.

We are told that this Urijah prophesied “according to all the words of Jeremiah” (v. 20). It may be the case that the LORD only needs to speak once, but the biblical pattern is that, since his word ultimately concerns matters of life and death, that he chose to follow the pattern he himself established, of two or three witnesses (Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15). In Urijah’s case, Jehoiakim had him captured and killed, and buried him in a common grave (vv. 21-23). However, in the case of Jeremiah, the LORD, by his sovereign providential hand, raised one Ahikam to be “with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death” (v. 24). Later on, Ahikam’s son Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the cities of Judah, would also be used for the same purpose (39:14; 40:5-7 Cf. II Ki. 22:12-14). “The story of Urijah shows that Jeremiah was not alone in his preaching; it also stresses that Jeremiah’s escape is not the most important point of this chapter, but rather the opposition in Judah to the word of God. Urijah died; Jeremiah lived, to complete his God ordained ministry. Compare the various fates of the heroes of faith in Heb. 11:32-38.” (NGSB. 1195)

*“His precedent is cited in support of the judgment just given, because as a result of his prophecy that Jerusalem would fall (Micah 3:12), the people repented of their sin. King Hezekiah prayed for Jerusalem and avoided defeat by the Assyrians in 701 B.C. (cf. Is. 37:14-38).” (NGSB. 1195)

Jeremiah 25:15-38 The Grapes Of Wrath.

Jeremiah 25:15-38 The Grapes Of Wrath.

“Jeremiah predicts seventy years of Babylonian activity for Judah as judgment for persistent sin, and warns the neighboring nations as well of judgment at the hands of Babylon (ch. 25). His message meets opposition from false prophets, priests, and the people (chs. 26-29).” (NGSB. 1192-3) Again, Jeremiah did not dream this word out of his own imagination, he spoke that which he had received (vv. 1-2). He also repeats the point regarding the beginning of his call to the ministry, being “from the thirteenth year of Josiah” (v. 3). Jeremiah spoke into a specific historical context, controlled as all history is, by the sovereign will of God. Again, he also points to his present, twenty three years after that initial reception of the word of the LORD God, but alas the people did not listen, just as they had rejected the LORD’s previous servant prophets (v. 4). Therefore the message remained the same – they needed to repent (v. 5), and turn from their idolatry or spiritual adultery (v. 6). This is why the LORD was angry with them (v. 7). Consequently, the curses for breaking the covenantal bond would follow (vv. 8ff.).

Now we read what it is that the LORD had said to Jeremiah specifically, namely that he was being called to symbolically take the “wine cup” of the LORD’s fury, from his hand, and cause all nations, to whom the LORD was sending him, “to drink it” (v. 15). Then he says “I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD sent me” (v. 16). Again, this was not an imaginary dream, Jeremiah had stood in the council presence of the LORD God and received from him the symbolic wine cup of his fury. Furthermore, he did not pour it out, so to speak, as he saw fit, but rather he went a spoke what he had received to the nations to whom the LORD had sent him. Jeremiah may have been a lone voice among many false prophets, but he did not fly solo. He spoke as an ambassador of his King, to those whom his King had sent him (v. 17). It should also not go unnoticed that the first people he was to go to with this message was “Jerusalem and the cities of Judah,” specifically to the covenantal heads in “its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse” (v. 18 Cf. 25:9-11).

This wine and cup of the LORD’s fury, wrath, or indignation will reappear in the last book of the bible, book of “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1a; 14:10), in the context of the “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth” (14:6), before the reaping of the harvest and the grapes of wrath (vv. 14ff.). ‘Curse’ is the key word here, hearkening to the reality of the covenantal bond (Cf. 24:9). The road then naturally leads to Egypt, the infamous oppressor of the people of God, also hearkening back to the exodus event in their salvation history (v. 19). We then are called back to remembering the victories, especially under David, over the Philistines (v. 20), “Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon; all the kings of the land,” that is the promised land (v. 21), Tyre, Sidon, and Arabia, on through to the Medes (vv. 22-25), and “all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them” (v. 26). Sheshach was a code word for Babylon, the king and nation who would take the nation into captivity.*

In other words, Jeremiah brings things all the way from the bondage of Egypt through deliverances and victories won to the approaching exile to Babylon, and even as Egypt was later judged for how they had treated his people, even so judgment would also come one day upon Babylon. God has always sovereignly used men and nations to punish others, including his own covenanted people, and at the time these nations reveled in their position. However, this in no way absolves them of guilt and judgment themselves. Just like some “party” to drunkenness and then vomit, what these nations love will be their regret. “Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you” (v. 27). The nations, leaders and people, may refuse to accept the word of the LORD God, but drink the cup they shall (v. 28). Again, this calamity will begin with “the city which is called by” his name, that is Jerusalem. None will go unpunished, for he will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth, “says the LORD of hosts” (v. 29). The LORD on high shouts from “His holy habitation,” roaring “mightily against His fold” (v. 30a).

The shout is to the treaders of the grapes of wrath, “against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will come to the ends of the earth-For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the LORD” (vv. 30b-31). All the wicked in the earth will be as refuse on the ground (vv. 32-33). The shepherds, the so-called leaders of the flock, were the false prophets, politicians and priests, not unlike the false ministers of our so-called mainline churches, and their friends the statists politicians, who preach a message of peace when there is no peace (v. 34, 37). They may try to flee from the wrath of God but they will fail (v. 35). “The LORD has plundered their pasture” (v. 36). The LORD God is as an angry lion set upon hunting and tearing apart his prey, and so he shall. Jeremiah was not his sword of vengeance, and neither are the true ministers of the word today. God will take care of his own vengeance. As ministers of the word we fulfill our calling when we preach the holy, inerrant, infallible word of true truth.

*“This word is an allusion to Babylon based on the word ‘Babel,’ using a familiar code that substitutes for each consonant the corresponding one from the alphabet written in reverse. In English, ABC would become ZYX.” (NGSB. 1194)