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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 27

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Chapter 27

Now Jeremiah goes on to declare that,

In the beginning ( Jeremiah 27:1 )

He's speaking this to the king Zedekiah.

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck ( Jeremiah 27:1-2 ),

So Jeremiah made this wooden yoke and he put it over his neck. A yoke like they put over an ox, and it was a sign of servitude. So he put this yoke over his neck and walked around every place he went. Here he had this old yoke over his neck, and people are saying, "What in the world have you got on your neck there? What is that yoke? Why are you wearing that thing for?" He said, "So is the Lord going to bring Israel into bondage because of their iniquities. God's going to lead us into captivity because of our sin." And so it was something that sparked a question in the minds of the people, but gave to Jeremiah the opportunity to share with them the word of the Lord. Now he said...

So he made a bunch of these little yokes. One that he put on his own neck, but others that he sent to the various kings that surrounded Judah. Now at this particular time they were preparing to rebel against Babylon. And they were planning a confederacy that they might get Edom, Moab and the king of Tyre and Sidon that they might all join together against Babylon in hopes of breaking the yoke of Babylon from them. And so God says, "Now make a little yoke for each of these kings and send it to them with a message."

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; 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 I have given it unto whom it seemed right unto me ( Jeremiah 27:4-5 ).

Now God is here declaring His sovereignty, really, over His creation. "I've created the earth. I've created man. I have created kingdoms and I have set upon the kingdoms those whom I will. Those who seem good to Me." Now it is interesting that at this point the Babylonian kingdom had arisen to world dominance. It was a world-dominating empire. And Nebuchadnezzar who God had placed upon the throne of Babylon was boasting of the greatness of the Babylonian kingdom. "Is this not the great Babylon," he said, "that I have built?" And a voice came from heaven and said, "The watchers have been watching you, boy, and you're in big trouble." And so he came to Daniel and said, "What does it mean?" He said, "Look, you walk carefully. You are in big trouble. Don't let your heart be lifted up with pride, but walk softly before God."

You see, he had had this dream. He had seen in the dream this great image. Daniel interpreted the dream as to represent the kingdoms that would rule over the earth. "You, Nebuchadnezzar, are the head of gold. But your kingdom is going to fall to an inferior kingdom, the chest of silver, the Medo-Persian. Which will fall to the Grecian Empire, the stomach of brass. Which will fall to the Roman Empire, the legs of iron. Which will fall to the Grecian Empire, the stomach of brass, the legs of iron, the Roman Empire and the feet of iron and clay with the ten toes." Now Nebuchadnezzar made a proclamation, "Be it known there is no God in all the earth like the God of Daniel who is able to reveal dreams," and all this kind of stuff. And then he turns right around and defies the dream. For he had built in the plains of Dura a huge image, ninety feet tall, of all gold. This was a statement of Nebuchadnezzar.

The statement is, "The Babylonian kingdom will never fall. It's not going to be replaced by the chest of silver and by the stomach of brass and legs of iron. Babylon will live forever." And he ordered that at the sound of the music, everybody bow down and worship this image that he has set up in the plains of Dura to dedicate themselves to this concept--Babylon will last forever. So he is defying the plain revelation of God. So you know the story of the three Hebrew children who refused to bow and were cast in the burning fiery furnace without any harm. After they came out of the fire he said, "There's no God... I, Nebuchadnezzar, make a proclamation--there is no God in all the earth like the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who is able to deliver from the burning fiery furnace." But then he was still filled with pride. "Is this not the great Babylon that I have made?" And, of course, then the angel speaks to him and tells him, "Hey, the watchers have been watching you." The watchers from heaven.

Boy, did you know that there's watchers in heaven watching you? And so he was in great fear and for a year he walked carefully. He was very careful. But after a year he was walking through his gardens and looking at these beautiful hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. "Is this not the great Babylon that I have built?" The voice said, "That's it. You've had it." Pow! Something snapped. He went insane. He began to go out in the fields and eat grass with the oxen. He lived like a wild man. His hair grew like feathers and his nails like claws. And he had a period of insanity for seven seasons until he would acknowledge that the God of heaven rules and reigns over the kingdoms of man and sets on the thrones those whom He will. He was brought to the acknowledgment God reigns. He came out of this period of insanity. "And I, Nebuchadnezzar, make a proclamation: No God in all the earth like the God of heaven Who establishes the kingdoms who He desires and sets upon the thrones those whom He would. And those He will exalt He can exalt and those He wants to bring down He can bring down. I command that all men worship this God."

Now he came to this acknowledgment. It is interesting that here in Jeremiah we have the very same thing that is being declared. That God gives in authority those whom He would. He raises up the powers that He would. And so God has raised up Babylon. So it is foolish for you, little kings, to think of rebelling against Babylon. God has raised it up as His instrument. God has raised up the Babylonian kingdom.

And now [God says] I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant ( Jeremiah 27:6 );

I've done it. God is the One that raised up Nebuchadnezzar. God is the One that set him on the throne. Nebuchadnezzar came to realize this in time. But here we find the same acknowledgment in the book of Jeremiah before the experience that Nebuchadnezzar had, recorded in the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, my servant,

and the beasts of the field have I given also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son ( Jeremiah 27:6-7 ),

Interesting. He goes down to his grandson, and his grandson was Belshazzar. And it was during the time of Belshazzar's reign that the kingdom of Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire. So God carried it. His son, Nabonidus , took over after him and then his grandson Belshazzar and during his reign Babylon fell. So I've given it to him and to his son and to his son's son. Here God accurately predicts really the time of the Babylonian fall.

until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him ( Jeremiah 27:7 ).

So a multiplicity of nations, the Medes and the Persians will join together and destroy him. And so here's interesting prophecy long before the actual fact took place.

And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand ( Jeremiah 27:8 ).

So if you seek to rebel, then you'll be destroyed. God said, "I'm the One that has set this fellow up. I'm the One that's given him the kingdom. I'm the One that's given him your kingdoms. And if you fight against it, you're only going to be destroyed." And that is so true. Fighting against the will or the work of God only destroys you.

Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, You will not serve the king of Babylon ( Jeremiah 27:9 ):

Don't listen to these men.

For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and that you should perish. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein ( Jeremiah 27:10-11 ).

Now if you'll just submit then you won't be carried off captive. You'll be able to remain right in your land. You won't be destroyed but you can stay right where you are and farm your own ground and all. All you have to do is pay tribute to him, but I've given all of you to serve him now.

And so it was, because Judah sought to fight against him Judah was destroyed and carried away to Babylon. Whereas these other kings who hearkened to the voice of Jeremiah, in submitting to Babylon were able to remain in their own lands and till their own territories.

So he said, Jeremiah speaking,

So I spoke also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live ( Jeremiah 27:12 ).

Just surrender. Don't try to fight. Don't rebel. Just surrender to him and live.

For why will ye die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the LORD hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, You will not serve the king of Babylon: for they are prophesying a lie unto you ( Jeremiah 27:13-14 ).

Now we'll be coming to Habakkuk a while later down the road, another prophet. Habakkuk was prophesying and about this same period as was Jeremiah. And Habakkuk begins his little book by praying unto the Lord and he says, "O Lord, please don't show me anything else. I can't take it. God, this whole system is going down the tubes and You're not doing anything about it. There's all kinds of corruption in government. There are all kinds of bribery and evil men are reigning. And God, things are getting worse and please, I would just rather not even have an insight into what's going on because I can't take it anymore, Lord. To see all of these things happening and You're not doing anything about it." And God said to Habakkuk, "Habakkuk, I am doing something about it. But if I told you what I was doing, you wouldn't believe Me." Habakkuk said, "Well, try me, Lord."

And the Lord said, "I am preparing the king of Babylon and he is going to come with his bands and he's going to take this land captive." "God, You can't do that. We're evil, sure. I recognize that. But man, they're even worse than we are. Now why would You use a nation that is worse than we are to punish us?" God said, "I told you you wouldn't believe it." But Habakkuk's problem was the method that God was going to use to bring judgment. By using another nation that was even more evil than they were. But God used them as His instrument of judgment.

You say, "Well that doesn't sound quite right that God would use a more evil nation." For instance, would God use Russia to bring judgment upon the United States? Quite possibly. He would be following a pattern that He has used in times past. But why would God use an atheistic country that doesn't even acknowledge God to punish a country that is a Christian nation? Wait a minute. You see, knowledge brings responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. To sin against knowledge is worse than to sin in ignorance. To him that knoweth to do right and does it not, that's sin. "He that knew the will of God and yet did not the will of God will be beaten with many stripes. Yet he who did things that were worthy of many stripes, because he did not know the will of the Master will be beaten with few. For unto whom much is given, much is required" ( Luke 12:47-48 ). And God in the past has used wicked nations as an instrument of judgment against His people who have turned their back upon God.

The United States does not have any real security apart from God and apart from a commitment to God. The world in which we live today is a very insecure world. The present position of the United States is an extremely insecure position. General Lewis Walt, four-star Marine general, wrote a book, The Eleventh Hour. It was published last year. In which he warns of the tremendous peril that the United States presently faces as the result of Russia's tremendous military strength. General Keegan, I have a speech of his in my office in which he again warns the tremendous peril that the United States is facing at this time because of Russia's military superiority. General Rogers, the supreme allied commander in Europe, in a Reader's Digest article last December, warns of the great peril that we are facing at the present time, again pointing out the military weakness of the United States in ratio to Russia.

And each of these generals, Walt, Keegan, Rogers, have pointed to the year 1982 as the crisis year in the history of America. Henry Kissinger has been saying the same thing, that we are facing a tremendous crisis. The Pentagon this week asked for 1.5 trillion dollars over the next five years for military budgets in order that we might begin to close the gap of the disparity that exists between Russia's power and ours. These men are worried. These men are concerned. General Lewis Walt in the preface of his book The Eleventh Hour said, "I've never sent..." He said, "I've always had one unbreakable rule and that is I've never sent the Marines into battle until I first of all told them the truth as I knew it." He said, "That's what I want to do in this book." He says, "The truth is this: you and your family are facing the greatest peril at this time than any other time in the history of the United States. For whether you live or die, it's right now being determined by the leaders of the Kremlin. And if they should choose tomorrow that you and your family should die, there's nothing we can do to stop them." And he goes on in the book and warns of the peril that faces the United States at this time.

You say, "Well, yeah, but God, that isn't fair." I am praying that God will bring our nation to its knees. I'm praying that God will stir us as a nation to return to God, because right now we dare not to trust in our military abilities. They are inferior to Russia's. We must put our hope and our trust in God if we're going to survive. That is the only hope the United States right now has. Our strength is not in our military might. Our strength is and must be in the Lord. So Jeremiah brought the message in order that the people might turn to God, in order that God might breathe a sigh of relief and say, "All right, don't have to destroy." And God is sounding out a message to the United States today. And it is getting much the response that Jeremiah's message got.

The political cartoonists are having great time with it. The Daily Pilot today, junky thing, had this political cartoon of this Bible and a snake coming out of the bottom of the Bible marked "Moral Majority" and it takes a big bite out of the constitutional rights as though the moral majority were trying to violate our constitutional rights. It's just hogwash. But the thing that upsets me is that there are people stupid enough to believe that. People don't think for themselves. And there are people stupid enough to think that the moral majority is a threat to our constitutional rights. And they're trying to say, "Oh, you know, trying to make America theocracy." No, we're only trying to make America a decent place for our children to grow up and our grandchildren to grow up.

I would like my little granddaughter to be able to walk down the street without the fear of her being assaulted and raped and molested. I would like to see some moral decency and moral purity again in this nation. I'd like to be able to send them to the store without them having to see all kinds of magazines and newspaper stands and so forth with nudity all over the place. God, can't we keep their minds pure at least for a while? Must we put pollution all around? Can't decent people have the right to live decently? Does constitutional freedom mean that we have to expose everybody to the filth and the pollution of perverted minds? I hope not. Or I'm for changing the Constitution and establishing some basis for morality rather than the nothingness and the vacuum that is being created by the humanists today.

Jeremiah was warning the nation Israel. Conditions existed then in Israel that can exist today in the United States and there's such a parallel here. Israel was known as God's nation, the people of God, but they had turned from God. They were filled with immorality. The priests and the prophets were false shepherds and they were leading the people astray. They were bringing the messages of comfort and they were ridiculing the prophets of God who were warning the people of the judgment that was to come. And they were saying, "Oh, they are just a bunch of doomsday prophets," and making light and fun of the issues. So he wrote, so he spoke to Zedekiah and he said, "Hearken not to those prophets saying that you're not going to serve the king of Babylon, because that's a lie."

For I have not sent them, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 27:15 ).

Verse Jeremiah 27:15 , chapter 27:

yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that you might perish, you, and the prophets that prophesy unto you. Also I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Hearken not to the words of your prophets that are prophesying unto you, saying, Behold, the vessels of the LORD'S house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon: for they are prophesying a lie unto you ( Jeremiah 27:15-16 ).

These prophets are going around saying, "Thus saith the Lord. Oh, the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar took, the golden vessels, they're soon going to be brought back. They'll be sitting here in place again, thus saith the Lord." And Jeremiah says, "Don't listen to that. That's a lie."

Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: for why should this city be destroyed? But if they are true prophets, and the word of the LORD be with them, then let them now make intercession unto the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left here in the house of God, and in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem, are not also carried away to Babylon. For thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning this brass sea ( Jeremiah 27:17-19 ),

That was made by Solomon that sat there, the big brass sea that was on the twelve oxen and so forth where the priests bathed.

and concerning the bases, and concerning the remaining of the vessels that are in this city, Which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all of the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; yes, thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that are remaining in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem; They also will be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be until the day that I visit them, saith the LORD; and then I will bring them up, and restore them to this place ( Jeremiah 27:19-22 ).

So hey, the false prophets are coming along and saying, "Ah, the vessels will soon be brought back." That's a lie. The vessels that are here, those that haven't been taken away, will soon be taken away. They'll be taken away also. Don't believe their lies. If they're really prophets, let them intercede that the rest that hasn't been taken away won't be carried away.

Well, when Nebuchadnezzar came back, it was proved that Jeremiah was the true prophet. He took the brass, the pillars and all of the rest of the valuables that were left in the city and carried them away captive to Babylon. They did not return until the time of Nehemiah who received orders from the king Artaxerxes to come back and restore and rebuild. Ezra, during that period, they brought back the treasures. And the king says, "Now take back all these treasures to the house of your Lord." And Ezra was embarrassed, because man, he had so much gold and silver and precious metals that he was fearful because the area between there and Jerusalem was full of bandits and everything else. We got all this treasure. But he was embarrassed to ask the king for a guard of soldiers to go with him because he'd been telling them how great his God was. "Now the God that we serve, He rules everything." And now he's really in a pickle because he's got all of this vast treasure and he's worrying now about getting it back there safely after he'd been bragging about God so much. But he said, "We put our trust in the Lord and we started out." And, of course, the Lord brought them safely in. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 27". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-27.html. 2014.
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