Scripture reading – Jeremiah 27; Jeremiah 28

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Scholars debate the exact date of the events recorded in Jeremiah 27. Each chapter was introduced with the following timeline: “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah” (Jeremiah 26:1; 27:1). Jeremiah 27:1 indicates that Jehoiakim was king, yet beginning with Jeremiah 27:3, Zedekiah was identified as the king of Judah. Perhaps the LORD commanded Jeremiah to construct “bonds and yokes” in the reign of Jehoiakim, but they were not employed until the reign of Zedekiah.

To understand this, let’s review the five kings of Judah before the Babylonian captivity. Josiah, regarded as the last good king in Judah, reigned from around 640-609 B.C.). Succeeding Josiah were his sons Jehoahaz (reigned in 609 B.C.), Jehoiakim (reigned from 609-598 B.C.), and Josiah’s grandson Jehoiachin (598-597 B.C.). Finally, Zedekiah was Judah’s last king and reigned from 597-586 B.C. Zedekiah was king when Jerusalem was destroyed, and Judah’s citizens were led captive to Babylon.

For over forty years, Jeremiah faithfully declared the word of the LORD and warned Judah that God’s judgment was imminent. Nevertheless, false prophets contradicted Jeremiah, and “the priests and the prophets” demanded that he be put to death for treason (Jeremiah 26:11). Though threatened with violence and death, Jeremiah’s zeal to serve the LORD was not dampened.

Jeremiah’s Yoke: A Symbol of Babylonian Bondage

Jeremiah 27


Jeremiah’s Yoke: A Symbol of Babylonian Bondage (Jeremiah 27:1-7)

The LORD came to Jeremiah in chapter 27 and commanded the prophet, “Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck” (Jeremiah 27:2). Jeremiah obeyed and fashioned yokes that symbolized not only Judah’s inevitable bondage to Babylon but all of its neighbors (Jeremiah 27:3-7). 

Jerusalem and Judah were already dominated by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, was his puppet. To instruct Judah to accept their servitude as God’s will, the LORD commanded Jeremiah to fashion yokes with bindings and place them about his neck. (Some debate if the prophet formed five yokes to be sent to five nations or one yoke with a message for five countries, Jeremiah 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 (Jeremiah 27:3). The LORD, longsuffering and compassionate, commanded Jeremiah to bear the yoke he made, and declare to the nations the sovereignty of God (Jeremiah 27:4). We read, “Thus shall ye say unto your masters; 5 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” (Jeremiah 27:5).

The LORD determined to give all lands, nations, and beasts “into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon,” whom He identified as “my servant” (Jeremiah 27:6). The LORD also revealed that three generations of kings would rule Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar, “his son, and his son’s son”) before that nation failed (Jeremiah 27:7).


The Dilemma of Bondage (Jeremiah 27:8-10)

Having declared Nebuchadnezzar was the LORD’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. He warned that should a nation rebel and refuse to “put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 27:8), that nation would be punished and suffer war (“sword”), famine, and disease (“pestilence,” Jeremiah 27:8b).

Therefore, urged Jeremiah, do not listen to your “prophets…diviners…dreamers… enchanters…sorcerers” that would say, “Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 27:9). Jeremiah warned, should any nation resist Babylon, and refuse the yoke of servitude, they would be destroyed (Jeremiah 27:10).

A Sobering Message to Zedekiah, Judah’s Last King

A Sobering Message to Zedekiah, Judah’s Last King (Jeremiah 27:12-15)

Jeremiah urged Zedekiah to accept the yoke of Babylon’s bondage as the fate God had determined for Judah and to “serve him and his people, and live” (Jeremiah 27:12). The prophet then queried the king, “Why will ye die?” (Jeremiah 27:13). Why reject the yoke God has determined for you, knowing you will be destroyed? (Jeremiah 27:13) The LORD admonished Judah to stop listening to the false prophets, “for I have not sent them…they prophesy a lie in my name” (Jeremiah 27:14-15).


Jeremiah’s Message to the Priests and the People (Jeremiah 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” (Jeremiah 27:16). They lied to the people and Jeremiah warned, “Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live” (Jeremiah 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” (Jeremiah 27:18). Nebuchadnezzar had taken much, but not all the vessels from the Temple and palace (Jeremiah 27:19-20); therefore, Jeremiah dared the people to test the prophets.

Jeremiah 27 concluded with the LORD assuring Judah that all the Temple would be taken as spoils to Babylon. Nevertheless, the LORD would not forget His people; the day would come when they would be restored to their land. On that day, the people would bring the Temple vessels and “restore them to this place” (Jeremiah 27:22).

Hananiah, the Prophet of Fake News

Jeremiah 28


Hananiah, the Prophet of Fake News (Jeremiah 28:1-4)

The time of Jeremiah 28 was during Zedekiah’s reign. The setting was the Temple, where a false prophet named Hananiah dared rebuke Jeremiah. Bearing the yoke the LORD commanded him to fashion as a symbol of Judah’s bondage to Babylon (Jeremiah 27:2), Jeremiah listened as Hananiah claimed to speak for the LORD (Jeremiah 28:2).  

Contradicting Jeremiah, Hananiah prophesied that the LORD had said, “I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:3). The false prophet declared that the LORD would break “the yoke of the king of Babylon,” and that Jeconiah, Judah’s captive king, would return to Judah (Jeremiah 28:4). 


Jeremiah’s Exposition of a False Prophet (Jeremiah 28:5-9)

Jeremiah answered Hananiah’s false prophecy with “Amen” (Jeremiah 28:6), for he longed to see Hananiah’s prophecy fulfilled (Jeremiah 28:6-9). Yet, he reminded the people that the test of whether a prophet is of the LORD is if his prophecies come to pass (Jeremiah 28:7-9).


Hananiah’s Dramatic Response to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 28:10-11)

Angered by Jeremiah’s rebuke, Hananiah rose, broke Jeremiah’s yoke, and mocked the prophet. He repeated his false prophecy and claimed that Babylon’s yoke on Judah would be broken within two years (Jeremiah 28:10-11). 


Jeremiah’s Rebuke and Prophecy of Hananiah’s Death (Jeremiah 28:12-17)

Rather than answer the prophet’s lies, Jeremiah departed the Temple (Jeremiah 28:11b). However, the LORD then commanded Jeremiah to return and denounce Hananiah for his lies (Jeremiah 28:12). Rather than a yoke of wood, Jeremiah prophesied, the people would bear the weight of “yokes of iron” (Jeremiah 28:13-14). Because Hananiah had led the people astray with his lies, Jeremiah prophesied he would die that same year (Jeremiah 28:15-17).

Sovereign God

Closing thoughts –

True to his words, all that Jeremiah prophesied came to pass (Jeremiah 27:19-22; 28:17). The remaining Temple vessels were “carried to Babylon (Jeremiah 27:22) and remained there until seventy years had passed. Then, the LORD restored the vessels and His people to their land as He promised (Jeremiah 27:22; Ezra 1:7-11).

Warning: Our world is filled with false prophets and preachers. Some masquerade as politicians, experts, and professors. Many fill pulpits and stand behind college and university lecterns.

Nevertheless, we have a sure word of prophecy from the LORD (2 Peter 1:19), and His Word imparts to faithful believers a discernment known only to those who live by faith (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38) and walk in His Truth (3 John 4).

Friend, the LORD is no less sovereign today than He was in Jeremiah’s day. No king, president, or dictator is beyond God’s sovereignty. The God of the Scriptures has declared: “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” (Jeremiah 27:5).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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