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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 29

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-14

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 29

JEREMIAH’S MESSAGE TO THE EXILES OF BABYLON

Vs. 1-14: A WARNING AGAINST FALSE PROPHETS

1. The setting for this chapter is Jerusalem, in the days of Zedekiah, (vs.1-3).

a. Here is a rare biblical example of the correspondence that flowed between nations in ancient times - even when one nation was a subject-nation to the other.

b. Upon the fall of Jeconiah’s regime in Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive, not only the king and queen­ mother, but more than three thousand other persons, to Babylon -princes, priests, prophets, craftsmen, smiths, etc., (Jeremiah 52:28).

c. Word has come to Jeremiah that some of the pseudo­prophets among the captives, like Hananiah in Jerusalem, were predicting the speedy collapse of the Babylonian Empire, and were promising that the exiles could soon return to their own homes.

d. Deeply concerned for his exiled brethren, Jeremiah was moved to warn them against such self-delusion by means of this letter which was delivered by Elasah and Gemariah. .

1) Elasah, son of Shaphan (vs. 3) appears to have been a brother of Ahikam, whose influence was a blessing to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24), and a grandson of Josiah’s scribe, (2 Kings 22:8).

2) Gemariah was evidently the son of Hilkiah, the high priest, (2 Kings 22:4), rather than being the brother of Jeremiah, whose father was also named Hilkiah (Jeremiah 1:1).

3) The delivery of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles was merely "incidental" - the trip being planned to transact some business between Zedekiah and Nebuchadnezzar.

2. Since the Lord their God has caused them to be taken captive to Babylon, their best policy will be to accept His wise, providential and sovereign direction over the lives, and be content with it, (vs. 5-6).

a. They may as well plan to settle themselves there and live as normally as possible - building houses and planting gardens for their own use, (vs. 5, 10, 28).

b. Family life is to proceed along normal lines: marriage, reproduction and the strengthening of their numbers is a part of God’s plan for their lives, (vs. 6; contr. Jeremiah 16:2-4).

3. Furthermore, they were to seek the welfare of the city to which they were exiled (comp. Daniel 4:27; Daniel 6:4-5) - even praying to Jehovah for its peace -the only instance in the Old Testament where a prophet commands the people of God to pray for a pagan city! (vs. 7; comp. Ezra 6:10; Ezra 7:23; Daniel 4:19; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

a. How strange the advice of this man, Jeremiah, to the thinking of the Jewish mind!

1) They seemed to think that Jehovah could not hear a prayer outside the covenant land.

2) Yet, the voice that spoke through Jeremiah was, obviously, the voice of Jehovah.

3) And He would not be pleased with such miserable self­pity as was later expressed in Psalms 137:3-4.

b. In the peace of Babylon the exiles would find their own peace; Jehovah had not abandoned them; He still watched for their best interest!

4. They must not be deceived by the prophets, diviners and dreamers who are telling them what they want to hear, (comp. Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 23:27); they are not telling the truth, (Jeremiah 27:15); Jehovah has not sent them! (vs. 8-9, 31).

5. Then they are told exactly how long Babylon will be master over them (70 years) - after which the Lord will visit them and permit their return to Jerusalem, (vs. 10-11).

a. He has already declared His intention to bless the exiles, (Jeremiah 24:6-7).

b. His good word toward them will certainly be fulfilled, (vs. 10b; Zephaniah 2:7).

c. His thoughts toward them are good though(s of peace, not of hurt - to give them a future, and hope! (vs. 11; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 30:9-10; Jeremiah 18:22; Psalms 40:5; Isaiah 40:9-11; Jeremiah 31:17; Hosea 2:14-15).

6. Jehovah has NOT abandoned the exiles; here is a fresh opportunity for them to know the blessedness of His nearness! (vs. 12-­14).

a. If they will call upon Him, He promises to hear, (vs. 12; Jeremiah 33:3; Psalms 50:15; Psalms 145:18-19).

b. If they will seek Him with all their hearts, they will surely find Him gracious, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 24:7; comp. Deuteronomy 4:29; 1 Chronicles 22:19).

7. At the appointed time He will bring an end to their captivity -returning them, and their brethren which are scattered among all nations -to their homeland in peace, (vs. 14; Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Isaiah 43:5-6).

a. The return under Cyrus was only a PARTIAL fulfillment of this prophecy.

b. The ultimate blessing awaits the return of Messiah Whom the nations rejected at His first coming.

Verses 15-20

Vs. 15-20: PLEAS FOR AN END TO SELF-DECEPTION

1. The exiled Jews appear to be comforted by the thought that Jehovah has raised up prophets among them who promise an early return to their homeland, (vs. 15).

2. For this reason, the Lord commands Jeremiah to inform those exiles of what they are REALLY missing by God’s gracious and early deliverance of them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, (vs. 16-17).

a. The prospect awaiting the king and people who are left in the land of Judah is not one of prosperity and peace, (Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 32:34).

b. The Lord is sending against them the sword, famine and disease - so pursuing them as to make them a consternation to all the kingdoms of the earth.

c. They are like vile figs that are so putrid they cannot be eaten; they are of NO BENEFIT to the Lord their God! (Jeremiah 24:3; Jeremiah 24:8-10).

3. Just as knowledge of His majestic acts toward Israel had been made known - to the fear of surrounding nations; so will they know of His mighty judgments upon her sin! (vs. 18-19).

a. They will live in terror and reproach among the nations to which the Lord will drive them, (comp. Jeremiah 42:18; Isaiah 65:15; La 2:15-16).

b. Their calamity will come as a direct result of their willful rebellion against those servants whom Jehovah has sent to call them to repentance, (Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 19:15; Proverbs 1:31).

4. The exiles are, therefore, to recognize their own good fortune and cease their struggle against the merciful providence of their God, (vs. 20; comp. Jeremiah 24:5; Nahum 1:7).

Verses 21-23

Vs. 21-23: A CURSE TO BE REMEMBERED

1. Ahab, son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, son of Maaseiah, have proclaimed lies to the exiles in the name of Jehovah, (vs. 21-22).

a. In His wrath, the Lord will deliver these lying prophets into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar against whom they are encouraging insurrection, (vs. 21a).

b. As the servant of Jehovah, Nebuchadnezzar will slay these wicked men before the eyes of their brethren, (vs. 21 b).

c. The curse that the exiles are to use against future prophets who encourage them to walk contrary to the ways of Jehovah, indicates that Nebuchadnezzar roasted them with fire -just as he intended to do with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (vs. 22; Isaiah 65:15; Daniel 3:19­-25).

d. Hananiah had already received his punishment for falsely representing Jehovah; Ahab and Zedekiah are about to go to what they deserve; Jehovah is jealous for the honor of His name!

2. These men had walked in utter disregard for any moral or spiritual sensitivity - living in gross immorality, (vs. 23; comp. Genesis 34:7; 2 Samuel 13:12).

a. They had committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, (vs. 23a; comp. Jeremiah 5:7-8; Jeremiah 23:13-14).

b. They had spoken falsely in the name of Jehovah -declaring things that He did not command, (vs. 23b).

3. Every rebellious heart should be startled into reality by the self-revelation of Jehovah in the latter part of verse 23: "I am He who KNOWETH, and am witness," ASV, (comp. Jeremiah 7:11; Jeremiah 16:17; Proverbs 5:21; Hebrews 4:13).

a. If the people of God are confused by contrary messages -all claiming to be from above -there IS one way to clarify the situation; ask someone who knows.

1) God is that Someone!

2) He knows ALL; there is nothing hidden from His view or understanding!

b. He bears witness to what He knows, and wants His people to know. According to G. Campbell Morgan, There are three basic ways by which He makes known, to men, what He knows in their behalf.

1) He reminds us of the lessons of history - from which we ought, at least, to learn some general principles.

2) By inspired messages, as men of God are borne along by the power of the Holy Spirit: upward, to a higher plateau of understanding; outward, toward the boundaries of the Divine government; and inward, to the very heart and wisdom of God.

3. God also make know through His providential arrangement of such circumstances as will lead us to the recognition of the truth concerning ourselves.

Verses 24-32

Va. 24-32: A FALSE PROPHET REBUKED

1. Shemaiah the Nehelamite, a false prophet who had been taken captive to Babylon with the first group of exiles, was displeased with Jeremiah’s letter to the captives, (vs. 28).

2. Thus, he assumed the right to counteract this by sending letters to Jerusalem, which he claimed were in the name of Jehovah, (vs. 25-28).

a. These letters were addressed to: the citizens of Jerusalem, Zepaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, and to the priests, (vs. 25).

b. They gave orders for the replacement of certain men with whom Shemaiah was displeased - specifically directing that Jehoiada, the priest, be replaced by Zepaniah whom, he assumed, would be more likely to carry out his wishes.

c. He was particularly concerned to have officers in the temple who would carry out his scheme to imprison, and silence the voice of, such men as Jeremiah of Anathoth, (vs. 26-27); in fact, he cannot understand why this man has not ALREADY been put to silence!

3. Instead of implementing the plans of Shemaiah, Zepaniah read the letter to Jeremiah, (vs. 29).

4. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah commanding him to send a second letter to his exiled brethren - exposing the pious pretender who was presuming to lead them astray. (vs. 25, 30-32).

a. The things that Shemaiah has prophesied to them are lies; he is NOT God’s man; nor has the Lord sent him! (remember, Jehovah is the One Who KNOWS and MAKES KNOWN!)

b. He has encouraged the exiles to trust in a lie.

c. The Lord will, therefore, punish his seed; there will not be one of them left to dwell among God’s people, (comp. Jeremiah 22:30; 1 Samuel 2:30­-34).

d. Neither will any of them behold the good that the Lord has purposed for those who are exiled in Babylon, (comp. vs. 10; 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:19-20).

e. Thus, He manifests His unchanging attitude toward all who encourage rebellion among His people, (comp. Jeremiah 28:16; Deuteronomy 13:5).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 29". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-29.html. 1985.
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