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CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—“Beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim.” There is authority for reading “Zedekiah” instead of “Jehoiakim.” Henderson substitutes “Zedekiah,” and appeals to chap. Jeremiah 28:1, to the statements in Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 27:12 of this chap. 27, to the reading of one of Kennicott’s MSS., and to the authority of the Syriac and Arabic versions. Further, Lowth, Blayney, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Dahler, Maurer, Umbriet, Ewald, Payne Smith, &c., sustain this change of names. The allusion in Jeremiah 27:12 indicates that Zedekiah is the king meant, for both sections of the chapter are synchronous in time and identical in meaning. Probably the reading in the E. V. may have originated from chap. Jeremiah 26:1. Calvin, however, takes the text as it stands, and suggests that Jeremiah kept this prophecy long secreted in his bosom ere he uttered it. If the true reading is “Zedekiah” then “the fourth year” of chap. Jeremiah 28:1, agrees with “in the beginning of the reign” of chap. Jeremiah 27:1, on the theory that, as Zedekiah’s reign lasted eleven years, it was early in his reign when the prophecy was proclaimed: vide chronological notes to chap. 21.
For—2. Contemporary Scriptures; 3. National Affairs; and 4. Contemporary History, vide chap. 21 in loc.
5. Personal Allusions.—Jeremiah 27:3. “Zedekiah”: vide notes to chap. 1 in loc. Jeremiah 27:20, “Jeconiah:” vide chap. Jeremiah 22:24.Jeremiah 27:7; Jeremiah 27:7. “His son, and his son’s son.” Nebuchadnezzar had four successors, Evil-Merodach his son; Neriglissar the husband of Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter; Laborosoarehad the son of Neriglissar; and Naboned the son of Evil-Merodach. The intermediate two successors are passed over in this prophecy, and only the direct descendants, “his son and son’s son,” are recognised.
6. Manners and Customs.—Jeremiah 27:9. “Prophets, diviners, dreamers, enchanters, sorcerers:” vide on chap. Jeremiah 23:25. These were all sources of prognostication current among the heathen who implicitly rested in such superstitions.
7. Literary Criticisms.—Jeremiah 27:1. The entire verse is absent from the LXX. Jeremiah 27:2. “Bonds and yokes.” מֹטוֹת are the two wooden prongs or poles of the “yoke,” which were fastened together by “bonds,” מוֹסֵרוֹת.
Jeremiah 27:9. The word “enchanters” is by some interpreters derived from עָנָן cloud: cloud-makers or storm-raisers; and by others from עַיִן eye, gazers at the stars and other means of taking omens of futurity.
Jeremiah 27:11. “Serve him … till it.” The same Hebrew root signifies both “serve” and “till,” or cultivate. Serve ye the king of Babylon, and the land will serve you (Calvin).
TOPICAL SURVEY OF THE CHAPTER
Doubtless the five kings (Jeremiah 27:3) had sent ambassadors to Jerusalem to consult with Zedekiah about entering into a defensive covenant against the threatening and alarming Babylonish power. Jeremiah has to meet these messengers with plain and emphatic statements as to the sure course of events.
I. A summons to submit to the inevitable ascendancy of Babylon.
Those “bonds and yokes” would have to be worn (Jeremiah 27:2). And what God said to these five kings He said afterwards specifically also to Zedekiah (Jeremiah 27:12).
i. The inevitable fact. Nebuchadnezzar must be supreme, however these kings might think to resist the decree.
1. Because God was the King of kings. The Almighty, who made “the earth and man and beast,” had decisively “given” dominion over them all to the one monarch they dreaded (Jeremiah 27:5). And “none shall stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?”
2. Because Nebuchadnezzar was serving the will of the Supreme King. Unconsciously doing this, yet none the less doing it. He was God’s “servant” (Jeremiah 27:6). There was a purpose in God’s mind, and He had chosen the Babylonish king to fulfil it.
3. Because a defined period had been set for this ascendancy. The “very time of his land” was clearly fixed in the Divine mind; its beginning and its end (Jeremiah 27:7). Compare Topic: “Seventy Years’ Captivity,” chap. Jeremiah 25:11-12, infra, p. 471.
ii. The results of resistance. See Jeremiah 27:8.
1. Resistance of God’s purpose would be marked by God. He would carefully note “the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar.” God was watching. He keeps His eye on the conduct of kings. The Supreme Ruler “looks down from heaven upon the earth to see if any will understand.” Having made known His will to these kings, He will observe their action; for resistance of God’s purpose is disobedience against Him.
2. Severe punishment from God Himself would follow their disobedience. He had other agencies at His command besides the armies of Babylon, and would let loose on those who conspired against Nebuchadnezzar “the sword, the famine, and the pestilence;” and the destruction these should effect should be more complete, “until I have consumed them.”
“Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth: serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalms 2:10-11).
II. Warnings against the delusive flatteries of false counsellors.
Evil teachers would not be idle at this crisis: they moved among the people boastful of a higher wisdom and a finer patriotism. Their object was to throw discredit on Jeremiah and lead the nation into a policy of resistance of Babylon.
1. Flattery assumes many forms: prophecy, divination, dreams, enchantments, sorcery (Jeremiah 27:9). It adopts any aspect which may beguile the heart. “Evil seducers” are fertile in resources.
2. Flatterers appeal to human vanity. Nothing could more foster the natural arrogance than this statement: “Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon.” Those who would lead us to disobey God’s word always come with announcement that no penalties shall follow. “The serpent said, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).
But God here points out—
a. The direful results to the people of their accepting these flattering counsels (Jeremiah 27:10; Jeremiah 27:15).
b. The merciful ameliorations which should attend their regarding God’s counsels (Jeremiah 27:11; Jeremiah 27:17).
III. Promises of preservation and restoration conditional on a wise submission.
Although Jeremiah held out no delusive hope of speedy restoration, but confronted the false prophets’ lying words with condemnation (Jeremiah 27:16-17), nevertheless he gives cheering assurances to the people if they would hear God’s word.
1. The inevitable conquest would not be disastrous. The “city” would not “be laid waste” (Jeremiah 27:17), and captives with sacred treasures would be safe in Babylon (Jeremiah 27:22).
2. The cherished symbols of their religion would be preserved. For God would keep them from destruction even in Babylon (Jeremiah 27:19-22). “Both priests and people set store by these relics of a bygone magnificence” (Payne Smith).
3. The captivity should terminate in their Divinely effected restoration. “Until the day that I visit them, saith the Lord; then will I bring them up and restore them to this place” (Jeremiah 27:22).
COMMENTS AND OUTLINES ON CHAPTER 27
Jeremiah 27:2-3. YOKES FOR THE CONFEDERATE KINGS.
Notes: The symbol was appropriate, inasmuch as their intention was to form a league to cast off from themselves the “yoke” of Babylon.
Jeremiah must actually have worn his yoke in public as a symbol of subjection to the king of Babylon, for Hananiah took the yoke from the prophet’s neck and broke it (chap. Jeremiah 28:10-11). Consequently we must infer that the bonds and yokes were literally given to these “messengers” for their royal masters.
These “yokes” were, in this instance (says Henderson), the collars placed on the necks of slaves to which chains were attached.
Jeremiah’s task demanded much moral courage and steadfast faith in God; for his act would seem an insult to these foreign ambassadors, and a provocation to his own countrymen, who were so hopeful of resisting Nebuchadnezzar’s aggression by this conspiracy.
Unpopular tasks may have to be performed by God’s servants.
A blow struck at pride may save men from great disasters.
Faithful servants of God may have to imperil themselves in averting perils from others. Jeremiah had to bear the anger his mission incurred in endeavouring to rescue these confederating kings from their ruinous policy.
Jeremiah 27:5. Theme: GOD THE SUPREME LORD OF KINGS.
I. God’s all-commanding power is set in contrast with the confederated power of these puny kings. Their combination would be futile to alter events which He had ordained.
II. God’s supreme lordship is affirmed as explaining the temporary ascendancy determined for the Babylonish monarch. It was not for his merits, but for Jehovah’s purposes.
III. God’s government of men is regulated by moral aims and is designed for the vindication of righteous laws. He was now employing Nebuchadnezzar to chastise pride and apostasy.
M. Henry remarks here: “The things of the world are not the best things, for God often gives the largest share of them to bad men, that are rivals with Him and rebels against Him. Dominion is not founded in grace. Those who have not any colourable title to eternal happiness may yet have a justifiable title to their temporal good things.”
Jeremiah 27:5. Theme: MEETNESS BEFORE GOD.
“And have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me.” A principle rules the universe—the absolute sovereignty of God. Evils come of acknowledging this in theory but not in practice; much loss of stability—repining—way wardness—disobedience, &c.
I. God is the proprietor of all. He tells all the kings that He made all the lands and gave them all to one, because “it seemeth meet to Him.”
1. Man’s forgetfulness of this in daily life. We live among things, all of which have an Owner higher than ourselves! We do not trace the Father in the gifts He surrounds us with.
2. The harmony of man’s being requires a sense of dependence. He is not happy till he realise dependence on God. Use possessions as God’s: this gives pleasure in their use.
3. Depression results from stopping short of God. We are satisfied with nothing till we see God in it.
II. Wisdom and sovereignty go together. “Unto whom it seemed meet unto Me.”
1. No comfort to know we live under an absolute Sovereign. Sovereignty might be deleterious to us. But every course of action He determines on is so determined because of its true goodness: it is not arbitrary, but the purpose of deliberate wisdom.
2. God gives according to seeming fitness. Our acting on this principle often proves a mistake. We err. But God sees deeper than what seems.
III. The unerring mind of God: i.e., concerning “the meetness of things.” The thought of it should lead us to—
1. Cultivate an adoring spirit. Avoid what the natural spirit in us would prompt to, viz., criticism and probable discontent. Cherish the song of Moses and the Lamb—“Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.”
2. Rest on Him in simple belief. With an unveiled intelligence sometimes, and sometimes in darkest nights. We are hidden in clefts of a rock when He passes by. If we want to see the reasons, or to reconcile God’s ways with our notions, we shall remain troubled to the end.
3. There is immense comfort for us in reposing in God’s law of “meetness.” It takes you behind all fogs and mistakes. Jesus Himself went there: “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight.” It assures us that right principles are at work. It affirms that He can do for us, and give to us, and keep from us, as He knows best for us.
4. The effect of contemplating this “meetness” will be submission, grounded on the consciousness that there is no injustice being done us by God. And we shall submit (a) from a wise consciousness of the uselessness of contending with the mind of God; for what seems right to Him cannot be changed. We shall come to submit, too, (b) from the consciousness that all things are being arranged on deeper principles than we can investigate. We shall quiet repinings by the thought that my Father sees meet, and therefore I leave the why of it: there will be resignation.
5. So with permitted evil.
6. Equally so with the existence of some mysteries—possibly everlasting.
7. The satisfaction of the heart which recognises “meetness.” For so “the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds.” “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”—Constructed and condensed from “Breviates” by Rev. P. B. Power, M. A.
Jeremiah 27:5. Theme: THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
“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.”
Divine declaration of a well-attested fact, i.e., the supreme power of God and the impotency of man: e.g., Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35-37), “who had the night before been gathering up his strength like a proud tower to dash himself against the towers of Zion. When the morning dawns his 180,000 men are still there, with sword and spear and helmet and streaming banner; but these banners wave over a silent camp, the trumpet lies beside silent lips—it is a camp of death. Sword and spear are still intact, but the arms that wielded them are impotent. The destroying angel has descended at midnight and converted the Assyrian camp into a sepulchre!” Also, e.g., destruction of Spanish Armada as if by miracle.
I. God as Creator. “I have made the earth,” &c., His prerogative to rule, to govern, and to direct.
Directing all the operations of nature to their proper end. All things hang on His will and are dependent upon Him. The starry hosts of heaven depending upon Him for their course, as well as the meanest moss or lichen on the wall for its growth. Not only every flower, but every portion of it—its petals, its colour, its form, its odour—are distinct witnesses to an all-wise, beneficent Creator.
II. As Creator of all, He is the Father of all.
Hence as Father, He ruleth with authority. And this authority is absolute. All men do not accept this. Sin, bold and impudent, with clenched fist, defies the Almighty, and with blasphemy from depraved souls defy Him. The FOLLY of it. God “breaketh down,” &c. (Job 12:14), as an absolute Sovereign; man’s part is to bow to His unchangeable decrees. Pompey boasted that with one stamp of his foot he could rouse all Italy to arms; but God by one word of His mouth can summon the inhabitants of heaven, earth, and the undiscovered worlds to His aid, or bring new creatures into being to do His will.
III. God, as a Father, ruleth also in love. “Like as a father pitieth his children, even so doth the Lord pity them that fear Him.” God’s love to His people is from everlasting to everlasting.
MANIFESTATIONS of His love abound in the experiences of all. It is perennial, permanent, and complete, providing not only for bodily and physical requirements, but giving to the soul that which satisfies its intensest yearnings and highest aspirations. He held back not His Son. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The cross of Christ—the noonday of everlasting love, the meridian splendour of eternal mercy.—A. Taylor.
Jeremiah 27:9. HEATHEN AUGURIES.
“The enumeration of the multifarious means and methods for forecasting the future is designed to show the multitude of delusive schemes for supplying the lack of true and real divine inspiration.”—Keil.
Jeremiah 27:12. SUBMISSION TO THE DESTINED CONQUEROR.
Dean Stanley suggests that Jeremiah’s counsel of Zedekiah and Jerusalem to submit to Nebuchadnezzar was, on his part, an act of political prudence to be imitated by Statesmen and Ecclesiastics, who may be wise in making large concessions of national rights in times of public emergency.
But Bishop Wordsworth urges that Jeremiah’s conduct in giving these directions was a religious duty on his part, since God had revealed to him that the nation was given into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, “His servant,” on account of their sins, and they must submit to him as the minister and viceregent of God.
M. Henry remarks: “Many might have prevented destroying providences by humbling themselves under humbling providences. It is better to take up a light cross in our way than pull a heavier one on our heads.”
Jeremiah 27:14. THE PROPHECY OF LIES. Comp. Notes, &c., on chap. Jeremiah 14:14.
“The devil often makes God’s Name (Jeremiah 27:15) the plea for lies (Matthew 4:6; Matthew 7:22-23), the test by which to know false prophets.”—Jamieson.
“As many wilfully put on nooses and wish to be deceived, we ought to notice what the prophet says here, that it is our duty to distinguish the true from the false.… We see how sedulously and prudently we ought to take heed lest the devil should fascinate us by his charms, especially when the name of God is pretended.… Yet it is a grievous trial, and much to be feared, when impostors creep in and boast that they are true legitimate prophets.”—Calvin.
“It is one sign of our depraved natures that we are more ready to believe lies than the truth. For when Jeremiah and his colleagues preached, no one believed. But no sooner did the false prophets come and open their mouths, than all their discourses must be spoken directly from heaven (Psalms 72:9). E.g., our mother Eve: what God said was of no account, but what the serpent said was something purely excellent.”—Cramer.
Jeremiah 27:18. Theme: PROPHECY TESTED BY PRAYER. “If they be prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of Hosts,” &c.
A scathing test! “If,” “if.” Yes, there were two uncertainties; but both would be settled effectually by their attempting the task of intercession with God. If they made the effort to open their lips to God, it would certainly seal up their lips to men; for liars dare not pray for the success of their lies.
I. Preaching is easier than praying.
In some sense this is so even in truthful prophesying. For—
1. The hearer is less searching. Man is our listener in prophesying and preaching, but in prayer we speak to God! When, therefore, we address the ear of God, our words falter if we be insincere; and we feel ourselves to be under an Eye which reads us through and through. This is not so when we only address men, who may be deceived.
2. The act is less daring. There is awfulness in an address by a sinner to God; whereas, oh the blasphemy of consciously speaking a lie direct to Him! Who would not shrink with terror? But a man, though sinful—ah! though a deceiver—will not so hesitate to speak to men.
II. True preaching will be accompanied by intercession. No prophet of God will fail in pleading with God.
1. Solicitude for those to whom he prophesies will impel him also to prayer on their behalf.
2. Success as a preacher depends on earnestness in prayer.
God’s messengers will be much with Him as intercessors.
III. The twofold direction of a preacher’s words.
1. Words from God to men. For “if they be prophets,” and it is equally so with preachers, “the word of the Lord will be with them.” They have something to say from God to their fellows.
2. Words to God for men. “Let them make intercession to the Lord.”
1. Being put in trust with a word from God makes us humble, dependent, and therefore prayerful.
2. Confidence in our message being true renders us fervent in pleading for its fulfilment.
3. Insincerity would not dare adventure before God with intercessions for His seal to our words, or the success of our prophesying.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 27". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent