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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 29

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-32

Chapter 29

Now Jeremiah sent this letter, chapter 29, to those Jews that were in Babylon. And, of course, this letter was sent to them and one of the chief of the princes that was in Babylon was Daniel. So Daniel was the one, no doubt, that received this letter from Jeremiah. Daniel was a captive in Babylon at the time, and this letter was sent by the prophet Jeremiah to those captives. Now, of course, Jeremiah is an older man at this point whereas Daniel is quite a young man at this point.

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah [the princes of Judah would have included Daniel], and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan ( Jeremiah 29:1-3 ),

This was the guy who carried the letter to Babylon, saying,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon; Build houses, and dwell in them; plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take wives, and have children sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that you might be increased there in the land, and not diminished ( Jeremiah 29:4-6 ).

Now rather than your coming back in two years as the false prophets were holding up a hope to them, Jeremiah's saying, "Hey, look, settle down, build your houses, plant your gardens, you know, start having children. You're going to be there a while and no sense of the population being diminished while you're there."

Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives ( Jeremiah 29:7 ),

In other words, don't rebel, but live peaceably with them. Seek their peace.

and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace ( Jeremiah 29:7 ).

As long as Babylon has peace, you will have peace.

For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that are in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD. For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place ( Jeremiah 29:8-10 ).

Now in the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel we read, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem" ( Daniel 9:1-2 ). So Daniel's making a reference now to this letter that have been placed in the book form of the prophecies of Jeremiah. And having read them and understood by the prophecy of Jeremiah that the seventy years that were predicted of their Babylonian captivity were just about over, he began to seek the Lord. But here is interesting to me how the Bible ties together. Here's the letter that Jeremiah is sending to those in Babylon; among them, of course, one of the chiefs being Daniel. And Daniel was there when the letter arrived. And Daniel was there seventy years later. So at that point, Daniel was probably in his nineties when he realized, "Hey, the seventy years are about over. It's about time to go home." And he's probably in his late eighties or early nineties.

We had a beautiful lady here this morning, ninety-seven years old. She said, "The Lord first spoke to me when I was fifteen years old and I've been walking with Him for eighty-two years." Oh, envy, envy, envy. Walking with the Lord. I said, "Oh, just talk to me. I want to gain from your experience of walking with the Lord." Beautiful. She showed it on her face, just a beautiful countenance.

David said, "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither" ( Psalms 1:1-3 ). I saw an unwithered ninety-seven year old leaf today. It's beautiful, just beautiful. Sorry, honey, but I fell in love with her.

"For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place," after seventy years.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, they are thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end ( Jeremiah 29:11 ).

Or to bring you to a good end.

Now if you follow your own thoughts, if you rebel against the king of Babylon, then you're going to have a disastrous end. If you will obey Me and follow My words, I'm thinking about you. I haven't forgotten you. I'm thinking about you. And My thoughts concerning you are those of peace. I'm desiring your peace. I'm not desiring evil for you. Now I haven't forgotten you.

So many times we're in captivity or we're having great problems, we think, "Oh, God's forgotten me. God's not thinking of me anymore." Oh, that's not so. God is thinking of you. But God is always looking down at the end of the road. Our common mistake is that we are always looking for immediate advantage, immediate fulfillment. And we don't consider the end result or the consequences of the things that we are doing. How many times we jump into things not considering what the end result is. Oh, but it looks exciting. It looks fun. Let's jump in. And God is warning and He is saying, "No, the end of that path is destruction. Now I'm thinking about you. Don't think I've forgotten you. I am thinking about you. And My thoughts concerning you are for your peace to bring to you this expected end."

Then shall ye call upon me, and then shall ye go pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you ( Jeremiah 29:12 ).

Now if you'll go back to Daniel when you have a chance, I'm not going to tonight, but when you have the chance, go back to Daniel the ninth chapter when he understood from the prophecy of Jeremiah that the seventy years were about over, what did he do? He began to fast and pray because the Lord said, "Then shall ye call upon Me." When? After the seventy years. "And ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you." So here is Daniel following the word of the Lord.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart ( Jeremiah 29:13 ).

I think that one of our problems is that we oftentimes have a half-hearted attitude towards God. We're not really seeking God with all of our heart. "Well, God, if You want to, I'm here. And You can do it for me if You desire. I won't stop You, Lord." And we oftentimes take a very passive attitude towards God, towards the things of God. Rather than really seeking God with all of our hearts. Now, there have been a few times in my life when I have really gotten desperate before God. But I'm amazed at how much it takes to make me really desperate before God. I'm sort of a kickback individual and I sort of take things in stride. Learn to just sort of roll with the punches and oh, well, it will work out. But there have been occasions where God really brought me to a place of real desperation where I can say I really sought God with all my heart.

One was in the sickness of our youngest daughter who was the light of our life. God gave her as a special gift to us. Well, all of our children are special gifts. They are just beautiful. We thank God for each one of them. But this youngest one, we were older, more mature, able to enjoy her more because we just had a little more maturity. We didn't know what we were doing when we had our first kids. All of a sudden by biological process you're parents, but no one trained us or taught us in how to parent. And so the fact that our kids have turned out good is only the grace of God, not our wisdom. We didn't know what we were doing. But by the time you have your fourth, you know a little bit. And you're a little older, more mature, more experienced. She was a joy, the light of our life. But she was running a high fever. Have been running this fever for a couple of days. Sat up all night holding her, just praying unto the Lord to heal her. And the fever kept high, and as I was holding her she went into convulsions and I thought I was losing her. Her little body stiffened up and the whole thing and I thought, "Oh, this is it." And I tell you, I began to seek God with all my heart. I was desperate before God. And I said, "God, you know that I treasure this little gal so highly. I would gladly lay down my life for her, Lord. I would much rather be sick than to see her sick. I would gladly, Lord, lay down my life for her. I love her so much. But yet, God, if it is Your will and Your purpose to take her to be with You, I give her to You, Lord. She's Your child. But please, God, I would love to have her still." But I mean, I was seeking God with all my heart. My wife had called the doctor. We bundled her up and started rushing off to the doctor with her. But before we ever got to the doctor, she was completely healed. Fever was gone. She was smiling, laughing and back to her beautiful, cute little self again. We got her to the doctor, "Well, looks fine to me." He said to Kay, "How long since you've had a tetanus shot?" She said, "I don't know." He said no use wasting time, give you a tetanus shot while you're here, you know. Kay got the shot. "In the day," the Lord said, "you seek Me with all of your heart."

The Bible says, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" ( James 5:16 ). How many times are we really fervent? How many times are we really desperate before God? How many times do we really seek God with all of our hearts? God said, "In that day I'll be found of you." He doesn't really like us to come with a half-hearted attitude but with a total commitment.

And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. Because you have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon; Know that thus saith the LORD the king that sits on the throne of David, and of all the people that dwell in this city, and of your brothers that have not gone forth with you into captivity; Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil ( Jeremiah 29:14-17 ).

A reference back to the message there in the courts of Zedekiah where God said those that were carried away were good figs but those that were left were going to be like rotten figs and be destroyed. Nothing left. No value to them.

And I will persecute them with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, a hissing, a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but you would not hear, saith the LORD. Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab ( Jeremiah 29:18-21 )

And God is speaking of Ahab.

the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah ( Jeremiah 29:21 )

Now who these two guys are, we don't know. They're not mentioned any place else in scripture, but they were a couple of the false prophets. They were prophesying lies in the name of the Lord. So God speaks out against Ahab and Zedekiah, whoever they may be. Not the Ahab the king; nor Zedekiah the prophet of the future, but these are just two guys.

Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes ( Jeremiah 29:21 );

These two false prophets.

And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, The LORD make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab ( Jeremiah 29:22 ),

So you want to curse somebody, you'll say, "The Lord make you like Ahab."

whom [he said, Nebuchadnezzar] burned in the fire ( Jeremiah 29:22 );

So Nebuchadnezzar evidently had a... the burning fiery furnace was his way of publicly getting rid of those who would rebel against him. And it is interesting that here in Jeremiah there's a reference to his old burning fiery furnace. It consumed Ahab and Zedekiah, but it could not consume Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And so here is another reference to that old burning fiery furnace. "Whom he burned, he roasted in the fire." So you want to really curse someone, "Well, the Lord make you like Zedekiah, you know. May He roast you with fire." And it became a curse, the way people cursed someone else. It's interesting they don't have curse words in Hebrew. If the Hebrews want to curse, they have to use English. Isn't that interesting? They don't have any swear words in Hebrew. We were told that and we were sort of surprised by that.

We went to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus one night. And we were standing there in the room and there was this Jewish doctor there and he was cursing in English. And I turned to Kay and I said, "Hey, I guess it's true. They don't have any swear words in Hebrew; he has to use English." And he looked up and he was quite embarrassed, you know. But they don't have any swear words in Hebrew, which I think is rather beautiful. And so they have to use English to swear. Or some other language, but they can't swear in Hebrew. They just don't have it. But they could say, "The Lord make you like Zedekiah," and that's about the worst thing you can say to a guy. "God roast you with fire."

Because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives ( Jeremiah 29:23 ),

So here he's telling the sins of these two guys.

and have spoken lying words in my name ( Jeremiah 29:23 ),

God's just revealing the cause against these guys. They're villainous, they're adulterers, and they're speaking lies in God's name.

which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 29:23 ).

Wow, that's heavy duty. God says, "Hey, I'm witnessing. I know. I know what they're doing." Jesus said over and over to the churches, "I know thy works. I know what's going on." When God starts bearing witness against you, you're in big trouble.

Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for every man that is mad, and makes himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks ( Jeremiah 29:24-26 ).

Now when they got this letter in Babylon, then this guy sent back a letter to the priests and he said, "You ought to put Jeremiah in prison. Put him in the stocks."

Why have you not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which makes himself a prophet to you? For he sent to us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is going to be a long time: build houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet. Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying, Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah ( Jeremiah 29:27-31 )

The guy who wrote this letter.

Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie: Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the LORD; because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD ( Jeremiah 29:31-32 ).

So Shemaiah and all of his children are going to be wiped out. He won't have any progeny following him.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 29". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-29.html. 2014.
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