Scripture reading – Jeremiah 27
For any of Judah who hoped the assurances of false prophets would prove true (for some prophesied the nation would not be condemned), Jeremiah employed the symbol of a yoke he had fashioned. The yoke, like that borne by oxen, would picture Judah’s inevitable bondage to Babylon.
Symbols of Babylonian Bondage (27:1-7)
Coming to Jeremiah 27, we find Jerusalem and Judah dominated by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, a puppet. To urge Judah to accept their servitude as God’s will, the LORD commanded Jeremiah to fashion a yoke with bindings, and place it about his neck. (There is some debate if the prophet formed five yokes to be sent to five nations, or one yoke with a message for five nations, 27:2-3).
Five neighboring nations of Judah (Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyrus, and Zidon), perhaps hoping to mount a counter offensive against Babylon, had come to Jerusalem to confer with Zedekiah (27:3). The LORD, longsuffering and compassionate, commanded Jeremiah to bear the yoke he had made, and declare the sovereignty of God over the nations (27:4), saying: “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me” (27:5).
The LORD revealed to Jeremiah His determination to give all lands, nations, and beasts “into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,” whom He identified as “my servant” (27:6). The LORD foretold how three generations of kings would rule Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar, “his son, and his son’s son”), before that nation failed, and God’s people returned to their land (27:7).
The Dilemma of Bondage (27:8-10)
Declaring Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant, and subject to His will and purpose, Jeremiah urged Judah and the other nations to accept the yoke of their servitude to Nebuchadnezzar (27:7-8). He warned, should a nation rebel, and refuse to “put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon” (27:8), that nation would be punished, and would suffer war (“sword”), famine, and disease (“pestilence,” 27:8b).
Jeremiah warned, do not accept the lies of the false prophet, who say, “Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon” (27:9). He urged the nations, accept “the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him,” for only then would they remain in their lands (27:10-11). Should any nation resist Babylon, and refuse the yoke of servitude, they would be destroyed (27:10).
Message to Zedekiah, the Last King of Judah (27:12-15)
Jeremiah urged king Zedekiah to accept the yoke of Babylon as the fate God had determined for Judah, and “serve him and his people, and live” (27:12). The prophet queried the king, “Why will ye die?” (27:13). Why reject the yoke God has determined for you, knowing you will be destroyed? (27:13) The LORD admonished Judah, stop listening to the false prophets, “for I have not sent them…they prophesy a lie in my name” (27:14-15).
Message to the Priests and the People (27:16-22)
Some lying prophets assured the people, “the vessels of the LORD’s house,” that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:17-23; 2 Kings 25:13-17), would “shortly be brought again from Babylon” (27:16). They lied to the people and Jeremiah warned, “Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live” (27:17).
Knowing the test of a prophet is whether or not their sayings come to pass, Jeremiah encouraged the people to ask the prophets, “make intercession to the Lord of hosts, that the vessels which are left…go not to Babylon” (27:18). Because Nebuchadnezzar had taken much, but not all the vessels from the Temple and palace (27:19-20), Jeremiah dared the people to test the prophets.
Closing thoughts – True to his words, everything Jeremiah prophesied came to pass (27:19-22). The remaining vessels were “carried to Babylon (27:22), and remained there until seventy years had passed. Then, the LORD restored the vessels, and His people to their land (27:22; Ezra 1:7-11).
By the way, the LORD is no less sovereign today than He was in Jeremiah’s day. No king, president, or dictator is beyond God’s sovereignty, for He has “made the earth…[and will give] it unto whom it seemed meet” (27:5).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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