The time frame of this chapter, which is an official correspondence from the Lord (through Jeremiah) to the people taken in captivity to Babylon, is about 598 B.C. The nature of the correspondence is two-fold; first, the Lord wants those who were taken into captivity to know and remember that the Lord will watch over them; second, because the Lord will watch over them, they are to settle themselves in this new land. At the proper time, after seventy years, the Lord will return those who desire to return back to the land from which they came, Israel. As you read this chapter be mindful of why this is taking place. The obvious reason is because of their sin, but the Lord turned an unfortunate experience that people of Israel endured into a positive many years later. With Jewish influences in other parts of the world, the Lord’s apostles had an audience to spread His message that is introduced in C-31. However, while the people reside in their new land/home, the Lord gives warning that those who are self-appointed prophets (called “demented” in the NKJV) will meet with the Lord’s disapproval; thus, let not any of those who reside in Babylon’s territory listen to these false teachers.
There are quite a number of lessons to be learned from these chapters. First, the Lord can and has used nations that have sprung up but for a short time to bring established nations (Assyria and Judah, just to name two) to their end. From this we learn the Lord is beholden to no peoples if His will is rejected. Second, it does not matter that the positive economic policy of the king (governmental leader) or the popularity of the king has with the people. If the Lord is against the king, the king (government) will fall and so will his subjects. Third, God’s preachers and servants walk, many times, a lonely road. As one looks about him (or her) there is much popularity and fanfare with religious entities that seems to grow by leaps and bounds. It was this way in Jeremiah’s day and it is this way in our day as well. Jeremiah could have easily given thought to “What am I doing wrong that all these people are flocking to these groups who are not teaching the Lord’s way in its purity?” Jeremiah could have thought this and been greatly discouraged. The Lord, however, is less interested in great gatherings than He is with the faithful preaching, teaching, and living of His word. God’s servants must find their comfort and confidence in God’s word. Of course, God’s servants don’t need to be deceived in thinking they are doing right when, in fact, they are not. There are a great many people who think they are faithful to the Lord when they are not, and this because they have substituted a “thus saith the Lord” with a “this is what I think.” If any man is going to speak anything of God, let him speak only that which God said (1 Peter 4:11; Isaiah 8:20); to speak or do more than what the Lord said is to move into the area of presumption—and that is never a good place to be.
The goings on at about this time in the secular world was a conspiracy to thwart the rule and might of Babylon by not just Judah, but other nations as well. Jeremiah preached to the people the Lord’s word in this circumstance—it will not work, so don’t align yourself with the conspiracy. Hananiah, one of the false prophets Jeremiah spoke against through his preaching, stood and negated what Jeremiah said in the previous chapter (27:2) concerning the symbolic yoke; in fact, Hananiah’s “prophetic” word made what Jeremiah said, in effect, a lie. A peripheral application of Hananiah’s words was that Judah could align themselves with the conspiratorial group and by so doing be relieved of the oppression inside of two years. This, of course, went straight back to the author of those words—the Lord. The Lord was not pleased with what transpired, and told Jeremiah that he needs to go back to Hananiah and tell him of the Lord’s displeasure and judgment against this false prophecy, having made the people believe in a lie.
By this time the king of Babylon has already made his “visit” to Jerusalem. This brings us to knowing exactly who is king; in 27:1 it is Jehoiakim (NKJV, ASV, JPS, KJV, YLT), but in 27:3 we read that it is Zedekiah. In fact, some translations (NIV, ESV, NET, Amplified) will have Zedekiah in 27:1 instead of Jehoiakim. The reason for the variation is in manuscript evidence; there are some manuscripts that have Jehoiakim, but some have Zedekiah. The actual balance of manuscript evidence favors Jehoiakim, but scholarship favors Zedekiah based on context. Not all Bible expositors/scholar accept Zedekiah; there are some, as shown by Humphries (pages 293-295), who argue for Jehoiakim receiving this word, but the implementation of God’s word occurring during the time of Zedekiah. In any case, the year of the events described occurred in about 594/593 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar had already made one pilgrimage to Jerusalem (about 606/605 B.C.), yea, even a second (597/596 B.C.), carrying off people and possessions each time. Jeremiah’s word has vindicated him with Babylon’s destructive force. With that, the Lord gives another warning via an object lesson. Jeremiah was to bind a yoke upon himself, with the yoke being a symbol of all those who are in bondage to Babylon (27:1-8). Unfortunately, the prophets of Israel were in continual delusion. They kept preaching a message that had political loyalty, but not godly loyalty (27:9-11). Jeremiah then appeals to the reasonableness of the king, Zedekiah, not to listen to these prophets; already they have been shown to be false, and Jeremiah confirms it to the king from the Lord (27:12-18) saying, moreover, that to refuse to heed is to watch when Babylon’s king comes in and takes the remainder of the religious articles (and whatever else he wants) that are in the temple (27:19-22).
The first 25 chapters of Jeremiah are the words of the prophet calling on Judah to repent, or suffer the planned doom the Lord has prepared. In this chapter and the ones following, the tone is more narrative than sermonic. Additionally, in this chapter, we have Jeremiah’s preaching and the people’s response. In fact, there are a great many who think the words of C-7 are connected with this chapter. In other words, as Jeremiah preached against the people’s loyalty to the Temple (rather than the Lord), they took strong exception to Jeremiah’s words and arrested God’s prophet. If the connection is successfully made, then we have what occurred (in brief) after he preached. A summary of the chapter is as follows: Jeremiah was told to preach the Lord’s word, not diminishing a single bit of it (26:2); the Lord had Jeremiah do this in order to get them to change their ways. This continuing theme of Jeremiah also had a continuing response—NO! The response was strong (26:8-9), and when Jeremiah was put on “trial” before those who stood as his judge, he said two things. First, he called upon them to repent so the Lord will relent and, second, “do with me whatever you will, but be sure if you kill me you will bring innocent blood on you” (26:10-15). The remainder of the chapter has two parties standing up in relation to Jeremiah’s trial. One stood up defending Jeremiah’s exoneration, while the other stood up seeking to bring capital punishment against him (26:16-24).
For over 20 years (23:3) Jeremiah has been preaching to a people not the least interested in turning from their evil ways. The people were politically interested in the affairs of the land, but not spiritually. Now, on the outskirts of Judah and Jerusalem sat an army waiting to lurch out to the prey. Jerusalem saw this and they feared greatly. One can imagine how they appealed to the Lord for help with such a foe outside the immediate boundaries of Judah, but when the Lord gave counsel and they refused to hear, He now has refused to hear their appeal. In fact, He not only refused to give them relief, but He makes clear that this is the beginning of their captivity, and this captivity would last 70 years (25:11-12). There is some dispute concerning whether this 70 years was exact or just a round number to indicate a long time, but when one thinks of Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:1-2), there is no reason to think of the number but in an exact context. The beginning of this 70 year period starts about the time of Jeremiah’s reference in verse 1, about 605-604 B.C., the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s rule. It was about this time that a significant regional war took place between Egypt and Babylon; as the two vied for position and pre-eminence, Judah was stuck in the middle. This was the historical significant battle at Carchemish (2 Kings 23:34-36). *** Jeremiah gives a summary of his work for the 23 year period of his preaching (25:1-7), but as the people rejected, and with Babylon having won a significant victory over Egypt, the Lord’s servant (25:9) was making his way to Jerusalem against a people that refused to hear the Lord; now, their next experience was going to be a period of captivity—70 years (25:8-14). As you look at verse 14, it is clear that verse 15 starts with a new point of emphasis; that point of emphasis is the Lord’s wrath (“wine cup of fury” NKJV) given to the nations, and there is no escape (25:15-38). Interestingly, in the LXX (Greek version of the Old Testament), chapters 46-51 are inserted after Jeremiah 25:13. The nations identified, including Babylon, will have to drink from this cup. In Coffman’s commentary, he cites the following words, “This a cup from which all men have to drink, i.e. that consequences of our wrong choices. Life places it to our lips, and its contents can be very bitter, whether the recipient be a nation or an individual” (p. 256).
NOTES ON CHAPTER 23
The shepherds of Judah are reprimanded by the Lord; some uncertainty exist in determining exactly who is (or are) identified. In Ezekiel the shepherds are the leaders of the nation, the kings (Ezekiel 34). This seems to be the case here when we think about the (singular) “King” (23:5) mentioned as being raised who will shepherd God’s people (23:3-6) in righteousness. This king was from the “house of David.” Thus, Jeremiah’s rebuke is probably to the shepherd kings Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. But just as there is a reprimand of the shepherds there is also a reprimand of the prophets and the priest, with the preponderance of the reprimand on the (false) prophets. These men were guilty; they were nothing more than “ear ticklers” who turned the ears of the people away from the Lord. As the Lord warned, these false prophets neutralized the Lord’s warnings (through Jeremiah) with the words “peace” (23:17). In 23:14 there is an association of which they are also guilty; they see the evil deeds of the people and they support them in those evil deeds. The Lord makes it abundantly clear that these prophets are nothing more than “prophets of deceit” (23:26).
This chapter is a perplexing chapter because we naturally read sequentially, but it is thought by most that the chronology of chapter 22 precedes chapter 21 (for what reason the Holy Spirit put the words of Jeremiah in this place we can only surmise). Again, Jeremiah is to appeal to the king (or kings) of Judah with regard to the Lord’s pending judgment. If they hear (obey) the Lord, then that which the Lord planned will be “turned away;” on the other hand, if they do not hear and heed the Lord, then the Lord will sure bring it to completion (22:1-5). While the kings of Judah put a premium emphasis upon “stately cedar wood” for their place of residence, the Lord said He would make the place from where this cedar wood came a desolate place like He will make Jerusalem desolate (22:6-9). Whereas the first 9 verses are thought to have a direct application to Zedekiah, the next three pertain to Shallum (or Jehoahaz). He reigned for but a short time and was then taken into captivity by Egypt, who then placed Jehoiakim (his older brother) on Jerusalem’s throne (22:10-12). Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin or Coniah) was king over Jerusalem, but reigned only three months (2 Kings 24:5-9). The Lord looked upon his ascension to the throne and said that he would not reign and, in fact, he would not be the Lord’s representative on David’s throne (including any descendants of his). Into captivity Jehoahaz went (never to return), and for him the people should have wept. This was illustrative of what would soon happen to Jerusalem/Judah. With Jehoiakim now the new king (the older son of Josiah, but rejected by the people), the king lavishes upon himself the luxuries of all-things associated with being king. The Lord speaks against Jehoiakim (22:13-17), telling him what will be his reward (22:18-23).
BIBLE DIFFICULTY: When one looks at Matthew 1:11-12 it is seen that Jesus is a descendent of Joseph, who is also a descendent of Jeconiah. Thus, we understand that Jesus was a direct descendent of Jeconiah (who sat on David’s throne). This, however, does not “square” with Jeremiah 22:30 where it plainly declares the Jeconiah will not have a descendent on David’s throne. Various solutions: Some reply to this by saying 1) Jesus sitting on David’s throne would not apply because the word of the Lord applied to “immediate descendants only” (Brown, p. 308); 2) that Joseph was a “step” father (not actual) and, thus, what we have in Matthew is a legal line rather than an actual descendent-line as recorded in Luke. In other words, through Joseph (as recorded by Matthew) it can be shown that Jesus is the legal heir of David’s throne (Homer Hailey). Luke emphasizes, through Joseph and some different descendants, that Jesus was an actual descendent of Joseph (Scofield Bible) through the line of Mary (Luke 3:23-38).
Zedekiah, mentioned for the first time since 1:3 (Judah’s last king), is really king over only Jerusalem by this time in their history (about 588 B.C.). Babylon has razed the surrounding territory, just like the Lord said would occur. They are now surrounding Jerusalem and putting the city into a vice, squeezing the life out of them. Zedekiah comes to Jeremiah through his representatives and asked him to appeal to the Lord for judgment in their favor. The Lord refuses; in fact, the Lord declares plainly that He has set His face against Jerusalem for adversity (21:10; “evil” as used in the ASV, KJV, LXX, and JPS). It is interesting to note that Zedekiah, considered an evil king, was a king who would not turn from the evil ways of the past, but clearly looked upon Jeremiah as the Lord’s prophet, knowing that what the Lord said through Jeremiah always came to past, thus making him credible. He was man who was confused and perplexed with what to do. The king appeals to Jeremiah and uses their history as a point of reference; perhaps the Lord will extend mercy to the nation once again (21:2). As mentioned, the Lord refused this request and He also used history as a point of reference – the history He used was the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:11-20 concerning the options before them. Israel and Judah chose poorly, and Judah must experience what Israel already did.
In life, all that we have is that which we have experienced, what we are currently living, and our anticipation for what will occur tomorrow. The heart of man in this world is his mind and with what it is educated. If he allows the education of this world to be the supreme controller of his life, then the path taken will be a deceitful path because the heart has ways that no one knows but the one who thinks and sets his own course (cf. Genesis 6:5). The Lord said, however, that the heart is deceitful above all things; this means that if one sets his own course, it will be on a path that only he knows. It may be that he thinks he has hidden his way from others, but the Lord knows the path the individual man walks – and He knows it well (He sees everything before Him). On the other hand, if he allows the Lord to educate him, if he walks the course the Lord sets forth, then man’s path is clear and safe.
I have heard it said quite a number of times that our generation (that is, my own) has grown up rejecting authority. Perhaps, it was the half-generation before mine where this philosophy first got its start (the radicals of the 1960’s); in any case, to grow up and look at authority as something to be challenged is a deadly game of “cat and mouse.” The significant problem with that is the mouse NEVER gets away; it is always caught. When people stand in direct opposition to the Lord’s word it is apparent they think they are going to get away with it. They never look beyond this current life and consider that they will be called to account by the One they rejected. It is a responsibility of ours to live and willingly submit to the Lord’s authority, but also to tell others of a coming day of judgment.
Apart from reading I really don’t understand clinical depression; I understand depression, but that is a bit different than clinical depression. What I do understand, I think, anyone of us can understand; we have all experienced depression to some varying degree. It seems clear to me that Jeremiah experienced/suffered depression to the degree that all of us have; his solution, however, was not the solution that many of us have adopted. When Jeremiah said he was no longer going to proclaim the Lord’s will (depressed as he was), the fire within would not allow him to suppress it (20:9). That’s the solution—the Lord’s will. Depression’s sentiment is connected to feeling rejected (a failure) and unworthy of anyone’s interest. That does not apply to the Lord, though. As long as we have an interest in Him and His way, there will never be a time that He is not interested in us, and even when we feel as if we have failed Him, He is still very much interested in us (cf. John 3:16). Somehow or another we need to put our arms around this and hold tightly. This life-line will be the only thing that will pull us through to the other side where we desire to hear: “well done thou good and faith servant; enter in into the joy of your Lord!”
With Jeremiah having given the Lord’s words in C-19, this same word came back to one who was in position of authority within the government. Pashhur was of priestly stock (similar to the prophet Jeremiah), and he did not care for what Jeremiah said at all; in order to thwart what Jeremiah said, Jeremiah was arrested and “flogged” (NET) while placed in bondage stocks. This humiliating beating was the result of faithfully proclaiming the Lord’s word to the people; this resulted in two things: first, Pashhur received word from the Lord that his name would be changed to indicate that he would lose his mind as he felt the weight of the outside world falling him on him (he would be a terror to himself) and that he would be taken into captivity and die away from his homeland (20:1-6). Second, Jeremiah expressed his great lament to the Lord for all that he experienced (20:7-18). The weight of the outside world was pressuring Jeremiah (as well), as he expressed it in this lament, but he really couldn’t have refused the Lord because the Lord’s pressure was even greater than that which he felt from others. Jeremiah felt overwhelmed. A key to Jeremiah getting through all of this was his desire to please the Lord rather than any desire to please the local people. His lament went from recognition of pressure felt to a lament concerning that fact that he was even born!
Those to whom Jeremiah was to speak—this “parable in action” (Dearman)—we have the significance of this chapter! Jeremiah was to take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests to the Topheth (or Tophet), a place within the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. It was here that Jeremiah was to speak some words so plain that the only way they would be misunderstood would be the result of one’s desire to misunderstand. Jeremiah has a pottery jar in hand, with him were the people the Lord wanted him to take, and to the designated spot they are to go. While there Jeremiah is to make plain why the Lord is bringing judgment. The people such as these are guilty in Jerusalem for the following: they have forsaken God and worshiped idol gods and innocent blood was shed in this place. A Bible
dictionary (McClintock) says this of Topheth: “a place near Jerusalem, where the ancient Canaanites, and afterwards the apostate Israelites, made their children to pass through the fire to Moloch” (cf. 7:31; Psalm 106:38). Though the people of the land looked upon it has a “field of service” to the idol gods, the Lord looked upon it as nothing more than a “valley of slaughter.” Consequently, Jeremiah was to take this potter jar, the men with him to this location and smash the jar in their presence. “With the breaking of the jar, Jeremiah indicates the irrevocable judgment to come. Just as the smashed earthenware cannot be repaired, Judah cannot be reformed” (Dearman, p. 186).
This chapter and the next seem to be tied together by the words or idea of a “potter’s vessel.” Jeremiah was called to go to a shop and pay particular attention to a craftsman and his molding of a clay jar; just as the potter can shape and reshape his workmanship to the point of his own satisfaction (18:1-11), the Lord uses the illustration to apply to Israel/Judah (especially Judah in this case). The Lord has tried to shape and reshape his people, but the people refused to allow the Lord to work on them (18:12). Just think of it, the Lord said, what the people have done. The waters that flow from the mountain snow is rejected for strange (dirty) water; the ancients path that has been set for them to walk on has been rejected for a path that goes they know not where (18:13-17). The people grew tired of Jeremiah’s preaching, so they make a plan to thwart what it is that he preached (18:18). Jeremiah himself tires of the opposition the people were threatening against him. He notices a pit that has been dug; certainly they seek to trap him in his words and, perhaps, they seek to ensnare him in a way that he is also apprehended. In either case, Jeremiah appeals to the Lord against them in rather plain words (18:19-23).
That which made Judah guilty is imprinted on the heart in such a way that it is not a mere curiosity, but an indelible mark of willful rebellion. You will recall when Israel came from Egypt to the mountain the Lord chose, it was there that the Lord inscribed in stone the Ten Commandments. Don’t miss the significance of the contrast (17:1-4). Just as there is a contrast with regard to what is imprinted on the heart, there is a contrast between the one who leans on man for wisdom and guidance and the one who leans on the Lord (17:5-8). These first eight verses illustrate well the point of verses nine and ten with regard to what role the heart plays in the life of man (17:9-10). The one who gains in an ill-gotten manner will soon experience what he hopes has fled his presence. Judah tried to gain much in the way of provisions, but they did so in an ill-gotten way (17:11-13). But the audacity of the people spoke of that which they understand not; Jeremiah, however, understood it very well (17:14-18)! The first eighteen verses are in poetry form, but the remainder of the chapter is in prose. One man described it as a mini-sermon that Jeremiah was to preach in the temple complex. It seems that a clear separation in message and, perhaps, time is occurring. The Lord told Jeremiah to impress on the inhabitants the significance of the Sabbath as given by Moses to the people even before the events on Mt Sinai, but especially since then (17:19-29). If the people would pay particular attention, then the Lord would grant a reprieve; unfortunately, as did their fathers (17:23), so the people that lived during Jeremiah’s day did the same.
In life, all that we have is that which we have experienced, what we are currently living, and our anticipation for what will
occur tomorrow. The heart of man in this world is his mind and with what it is educated. If he allows the education of this world to be the supreme controller of his life, then the path taken will be a deceitful path because the heart has ways that no one knows but the one who thinks and sets his own course (cf. Genesis 6:5). The Lord said, however, that the heart is deceitful above all things; this means that if one sets his own course, it will be on a path that only he knows. It may be that he thinks he has hidden his way from others, but the Lord knows the path the individual man walks – and He knows it well (He sees everything before Him). On the other hand, if he allows the Lord to educate him, if he walks the course the Lord sets forth, then man’s path is clear and safe.
I have heard it said quite a number of times that our generation (that is, my own) has grown up rejecting authority. Perhaps, it was
the half-generation before mine where this philosophy first got its start (the radicals of the 1960’s); in any case, to grow up and look at authority as something to be challenged is a deadly game of “cat and mouse.” The significant problem with that is the mouse NEVER gets away; it is always caught. When people stand in direct opposition to the Lord’s word it is apparent they think they are going to get away with it. They never look beyond this current life and consider that they will be called to account by the One they rejected. It is a responsibility of ours to live and willingly submit to the Lord’s authority, but also to tell others of a coming day of judgment.
Apart from reading I really don’t understand clinical depression; I understand depression, but that is a bit different than clinical depression. What I do understand, I think, anyone of us can understand; we have all experienced depression to some varying degree. It seems clear to me that Jeremiah experienced/suffered depression to the degree that all of us have; his solution, however, was not
the solution that many of us have adopted. When Jeremiah said he was no longer going to proclaim the Lord’s will (depressed as he was), the fire within would not allow him to suppress it (20:9). That’s the solution—the Lord’s will. Depression’s sentiment is connected to feeling rejected (a failure) and unworthy of anyone’s interest. That does not apply to the Lord, though. As long as we have an interest in Him and His way, there will never be a time that He is not interested in us, and even when we feel as if we have failed Him, He is
still very much interested in us (cf. John 3:16). Somehow or another we need to put our arms around this and hold tightly. This life-line will be the only thing that will pull us through to the other side where we desire to hear: “well done thou good and faith servant; enter in into the joy of your Lord!”