Jeremiah 29 - Outline of Jeremiah (MENU page)
Message to the first Captives: Conflict with False Prophets already in captivity (ch. 29)
This chapter consists of two letters sent by Jeremiah.
I. Counsel to the Jews in captivity (29:1-23)
  1. The Postmark on Jeremiah's letter (v.1-3)
    1. Addressees - the captives in Babylon, including elders, priests, prophets and people (v.1).
      • "...unto the residue {ie., remnant} of..." - Those addressed were the portion of the population which had been carried away captive to Babylon. They represented a minority of the nation. Yet, among them few would heed the message of this letter. Those few were the believing remnant.
    2. Time sent - following the captivity of Jeconiah (v.2; cp. 2Kin 24:12-16).
      • Note those who were taken captive. Although the percentage of the population in captivity was still small, they represented a high percentage of the educated and skilled men. Similarly, Daniel and his three companions were among a select group which was deported in the third year of Jehoiakim's reign (the first year of king Nebuchadnezzar), about seven years prior to the deportation under Jeconiah. The intent of Babylon was to weaken Judah by deporting the intelligentsia, and to strengthen themselves politically by re-educating the young elite in the ways of Babylon. (Dan 1:1-6)
      • The precise time of Jeremiah's letter is not given. However, it seems likely that it was very early in the reign of Zedekiah, who was installed as king by Nebuchadnezzar at the time of Jeconiah's deportation (2Kin 24:17). This letter may be a continuation of the Message of the Yokes (in ch. 27,28).
    3. Method of delivery (v.3) -
      • "By the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah..." - Hilkiah was the high priest who discovered the Book of the Law. Shaphan was the scribe who read it to king Josiah. (2Kin 22:8). Both men had been instrumental in the revival under Josiah. So, it is possible that Elasah and Gemariah were favorable toward Jeremiah and his message.
      • "...whom Zedekiah... sent... to Nebuchadnezzar..." - Elasah and Gemariah were probably on a diplomatic mission to Babylon, following the political summit which Zedekiah had just hosted (27:3)
  2. The LORD's Word regarding the captives already in Babylon (v.4-14) -
    • Although Jeremiah sent this letter, he had nothing to say for himself. He wrote as he spoke: the Words which the LORD put in his mouth. (Jer 1:6-9; 2Pet 1:20,21)
    • The essence of the message:
      1. Serve Babylon and live (v.4-7; cp. 27:11,12,17)
        They were to settle in for a long stay (v.5,6), be good citizens, and pray for the peace of Babylon (v.7). In doing so, they would have peace. (eg., The example of Daniel and his companions.) "Those who heed God's counsels find a measure of tranquility and prosperity" even in a time and place of judgment. [in quotes, from GWms]
      2. God's Word will prevail over the word of the false prophets (v.8,9; cp. 27:9-10,14-16)
        • The false prophets proclaimed that the captivity would soon be ended (27:16).
        • The LORD said that the captivity would last for 70 years (cp. Jer 25:12; 27:7,22)
      3. God's Word is the Hope of the believing remnant (v.10-14)
        • thoughts of peace and not of evil... (v.10) - Though they would endure a time of evil {HB= ra, ie., misery, distress, injury, and wrong}, the Lord's purpose for His people is everlasting peace {HB=shalom, ie., tranquility, contentment, safety, well being, prosperity}.
        • an expected end... (v.11) - "expected" means "a ground of hope". (cp. these words in Jer 31:17; Prov 23:17,18). This is the OT equivalent of "things hoped for" (Heb 11:1). Faith believes and waits for the promised redemption: (near view) the restoration of the remnant to Jerusalem (v.10), (far view) the restoration of all things at Christ's return (Acts 3:19-21).
        • The LORD works in behalf of those who seek Him with the whole heart (v.12-14) -Again, we see the example of Daniel and his companions, in seeking the Lord (Dan 2:17-19) and in watching for the "expected end" (Dan 9:1-3). The answer to Daniel's enquiry extends to the final restoration (Dan 9:24).
        • The LORD's promises to the believing remnant...
          • Ye shall call upon Me... I will hearken unto you.
          • Ye shall seek Me... I will be found of you.
          • I will turn away your captivity.
          • I will gather you from the nations.
          • I will bring you again into the place from which you were taken.
  3. The Lord's Word regarding the residents of Jerusalem who were not yet captive (v.15-19).-
    Contrary to the false prophets' assertion that the captivity would soon end (v.15), those who still remained in Jerusalem (v.16) would soon suffer the effects of a siege, followed by dispersion to distant lands (v.17,18). They were like vile figs (the fig tree is a picture of Israel), which were so bad that their scattering would be without hope of return (cp. Jer 24:8-10). The reason for such severe treatment was disregard of God's Word (v.19). (The promise of restoration was for the "good figs," the believing remnant already in captivity. 24:5-7)
  4. The Lord's Word regarding two false prophets among the captives (v.20-23).-
    • Ahab and Zedekiah (not the kings by those names) are unknown except for these verses.
    • They prophesied a lie in God's name (cp. v.8,9; 27:16). - The people regarded them as spokesmen for the Lord (v.15), but the Lord knew their hearts (v.23; cp. 17:9,10).
    • ...of them shall be taken up a curse (cp. 26:6) - Their fate would be a visible illustration of the wrath of God, and would become a proverb for evil, taken up on the lips of the captives in Babylon.
    • ...whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire. (v.22b) - As Jeremiah wrote the content of the curse, the event which the curse would remember had not yet occurred. Such an occasion is recorded in Daniel 3. False prophets may have refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's image, but for the wrong reasons. In keeping with their own false message, they believed Nebuchadnezzar's power would soon be broken, and their captivity reversed. Perhaps their stand was political and their trust was in the diplomatic process (Dan 3:3). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego placed their trust wholly in the Lord (Dan 3:16-18).

II. Correspondence pertaining to one of the false prophets in the captivity (v.24-32) -
  1. The occasion of the letter (v.24,25) -
    • The closing portion of ch. 29 consists of a letter sent by Jeremiah, some time later than the letter above. It was occasioned by a letter sent by Shemaiah, a false prophet among the captives, to Zephaniah the high priest in Jerusalem. (Zephaniah was one of the priests whom Zedekiah sent to enquire of the Lord via Jeremiah. cp. 21:1; 37:3)
    • "Because thou hast sent letters..." - Shemaiah's letter may have been sent in multiple copies (letters), or it may have been an open letter posted in a public place. The purpose of Jeremiah's letter was to convey the Lord's verdict upon Shemaiah. This "because..." is answered by the "therefore..." in v.32.
  2. The substance of Shemaiah's letter to Zephaniah (v.26-28) - Jeremiah included a copy of Shemaiah's letter with his reply.
    • The responsibility of Zephaniah - As high priest, Zephaniah was charged with guarding against those who would promote falsehood within the kingdom. He was occupying the office filled by Jehoida (approx. 275 years earlier), who defended and preserved the Davidic line when Athaliah established herself as queen following her son's murder. (2Chr 22:10 - 23:21)
    • A reprimand of Zephaniah for inaction against Jeremiah (v.27), who was obviously mad {insane}. cp. Acts 26:24
    • The evidence against Jeremiah (v.28) - consisted of Jeremiah's own words, which were completely out of sync with the words of other preachers. Jeremiah had previously been tried, in Jerusalem, for his words which were considered traitorous and blasphemous (ch. 26).
  3. The substance of Jeremiah's reply (v.29-32) - Again, Jeremiah has no words of his own.
    • The Lord identifies Shemaiah as a false prophet. (v.31)
    • The Lord pronounces punishment against Shemaiah (v.32) -
      • He would have no male descendant to carry on his name (v.32a).
      • Neither he, nor his seed, would live to see the promised restoration (v.32b). Compare the fate of Hananiah, another false prophet (Jer 28:15-17). (Some of Shemaiah's contemporaries did live to see the restoration. eg., Ezra 3:11,12)

Click here to continue the study in Jeremiah 30 - 31
Return to Jeremiah - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from www.theBookWurm.com


Go to The Book opening page.