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Deeper Commentary


Jeremiah 27:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from Yahweh saying- We have just read in Jer. 26:20-24 that Jehoiakim had sought out and killed a prophet who taught precisely what Jeremiah did. This serves to highlight Jeremiah's bravery in so publically witnessing to the same truths. The LXX omits this verse, however; and it would seem from :3,12 that the section here refers not to Jehoiakim but to Zedekiah (cp. Jer. 26:1). Some had already gone into captivity (:16). Some manuscripts read "Zedekiah" here.  

Jeremiah 27:2 Thus says Yahweh to me: Make bonds and bars and put them on your neck-
Jeremiah personally was to experience the bonds and bars which he was telling others about. The "bonds" refer to the bonds connecting the two pieces of wood which formed the yoke. He was human and therefore in the position of everyone else. And this is to be the basis of our appeal to people likewise.

Jeremiah 27:3 and send them to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the children of Ammon, to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah-
All this effort was to try to convert those nations; by humbling themselves beneath Babylon they were humbling themselves beneath Yahweh's word and will. It was His intention that the peoples around Judah should repent along with Judah. "The messengers" were the representatives of those nations invited by Zedekiah in a bid to make alliances with them and thus form a coalition to protect them from Babylon. This is described elsewhere as prostitution. These envoys were to be sent back with yokes they were invited to wear, symbolizing their subjection to Babylon rather than their opposition to Babylon. Edom joined in the destruction of Jerusalem along with the Babylonians, but Babylon later turned against Edom and destroyed her. Jeremiah's appeal at this point was not heard, and so we can imagine that the messengers refused to carry the yokes back to their rulers. 

Jeremiah 27:4 and give them a command to their masters saying, Thus says Yahweh of Armies the God of Israel, You shall tell your masters-
Yahweh had armies of Angels controlling and manipulating all human armies. The God of Israel was therefore in control of all the eretz; and Yahweh wanted them to accept that, which was tantamount to inviting them to accept Him as their God.

Jeremiah 27:5 I have made the earth, the men and the animals that are on the surface of the earth, by My great power and by My outstretched arm; and I give it to whom it seems right to Me-
The nations on the eretz were no more than the animals, to whom God had also given their allotted portion. We note that there is no empirical reason given, no attempt at apologetics. This huge claim was simply made, and there was an internal credibility to it. And that is just the same today. God's amazing claims are of themselves the appeal and their credibility is within their own message, and is not strengthened by any appeal to other back up support. The "outstretched" arm of Yahweh is a term associated with God's redemption of Israel from captivity and bringing them into the eretz. This was to be His continued endpoint in view, the objective He had set in history, even if it were delayed, rescheduled and reapplied.

Jeremiah 27:6 Now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the animals of the field also have I given him to serve him-
These animals may be simply parallel with the nations of :7; the same figure is in Ez. 31:6; Zeph. 2:14. Note how Nebuchadnezzar is presented as serving God; and the other nations serve him, and if they do this willingly, then by extension, they would be Yahweh's servants.

Jeremiah 27:7 All the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his own land come: and then many nations and great kings shall make him their bond servant-
I have repeatedly observed that God's prophecies are conditional; indeed there are many different scenarios of judgment presented in Jeremiah, because the human variables (particularly of repentance) were themselves not forced by God, but the results of genuine human freewill decisions. And so the nations serving Babylon for the next three generations of Babylonian rulers is another example of one possible scenario which didn't come about because various preconditions (perhaps invisible to us at this stage) weren't met. The 70 year period of servitude to Babylon (Jer. 25:11,12; 29:10) would certainly have to be understood not literally but as a round number.
Nebuchadnezzar died B.C. 561, his son Evil-Merodach reigned only two years; then in  B.C. 555 Laberosoarchod became king, but was deposed after nine months by a usurper from another family, Nabonedus or Nabunita, who ruled until B.C. 538, when Babylon fell. A literal "seventy years" from this point comes only to B.C. 555. See on :17.

Jeremiah 27:8 It shall happen, that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon-
The symbolism of the yoke is explained in Lam. 1:14, where it represents the yoke of sins. It is this which is lifted by the saving work of Yahweh in Messiah. To willingly place their necks under the yoke was to recognize they had sinned and deserved this. As noted on :6, Nebuchadnezzar is presented as serving God; and the other nations serve him, and if they do this willingly, then by extension, they would be Yahweh's servants. Again we perceive that God was seeking to convert even the Gentiles.

That nation will I punish, says Yahweh, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the plague, until I have consumed them by his hand- There is no particular evidence that supernatural famines and plagues were used to destroy nations who resisted Babylon; as noted on :7, we are dealing here with a series of potential scenarios.

Jeremiah 27:9 But as for you, don’t you listen to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreams, nor to your soothsayers, nor to your sorcerers, who speak to you saying, You shall not serve the king of Babylon-
This is an appeal to the nations to not listen to their own prophets, but to Jeremiah as the only true prophet. We marvel at God's breadth of vision, initiative and wideness of hope to save- even these Gentile nations.

Jeremiah 27:10 for they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land, and that I should drive you out, and you should perish-
"Remove you far" is a word used of Israel's exile at the hands of their invaders (Is. 6:12; 26:15). But this, like all judgments, was only a reflection of how they had gone far from God in their hearts (s.w. Jer. 2:5; Is. 29:13).

Jeremiah 27:11 But the nation that shall bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, that nation will I let remain in their own land, says Yahweh; and they shall till it, and dwell therein-
 This prophecy was consciously disobeyed by the Jews who remained in the land after Jerusalem fell; they fled to Egypt. We note the same conditions were given to Judah as to the Gentile nations around them; clearly it was the Divine intention that they should all repent together. To serve the king of Babylon was effectively to serve Yahweh, seeing he was Yahweh's servant. "Till" and "serve" are the same Hebrew words. Serving their own land was to be service to Babylon. But they all wanted so much more, attracted as people are today by the promise of absolute freedom; when this is only possible through service to God in repentance.   

Jeremiah 27:12 I spoke 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-
According to the apocryphal book of Baruch, the exiles asked for ‘deliverance’- but they redefined ‘deliverance’ as meaning being allowed to live prosperously in the land of their captivity (Baruch 1:12 cp. 2:14), rather than being delivered from Babylon and returning to Judah. In a way, the book of Esther shows how God heard this prayer. But the book of Esther therefore has a sad ending, with the Jews prosperous, loved and respected, and even further away from returning to the land. Indeed, Baruch 2:21 records them misquoting Jer. 27:12 about the need to obey the King of Babylon during their captivity, and understanding this as meaning they were to remain in Babylon! See on Jer. 29:10.

In the future, at the Lord's return, we will be saved from wrath (i.e. condemnation) through Christ (Rom. 5:9). Whilst this has already been achieved in a sense, it will be materially articulated in that day- in that we will feel and know ourselves to be worthy of God's wrath, but then be saved from it. We are all to some extent in the position of Zedekiah and the men of Judah, who was told that if they accepted God’s condemnation of them as just, and served the King of Babylon, then they would ultimately be saved; but if they refused to accept that condemnation, then they would be eternally destroyed (Jer. 21:9; 27:12). And the Babylonian invasion was a type of the final judgment.


Jeremiah 27:13 Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as Yahweh has spoken concerning the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?-
Zedekiah refused to respond, and yet he did not actually die at the hand of the king of Babylon as here implied- not by sword, nor famine nor plague. He died of natural causes in prison (Jer. 52:11). Again, God's statements here are in terms of potential scenarios. Perhaps Zedekiah repented to some degree, and was as it were given credit for this. See on Jer. 21:7.

Jeremiah 27:14 Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you saying, You shall not serve the king of Babylon; for they prophesy a lie to you-
This was the classic message of false teachers- offering freedom, when in fact their message would make people slaves. Perhaps this was alluded to in 2 Pet. 2:19: "Promising them liberty, while they are in fact slaves to corruption. For of whom a person is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bondage".

Jeremiah 27:15 For I have not sent them, says Yahweh, but they prophesy falsely in My name; that I may drive you out, and that you may perish, you, and the prophets who prophesy to you-
The impression is given that the false prophets prophesied so that God could drive them out. God confirms people in whatever way they choose to go. 

Jeremiah 27:16 Also I spoke to the priests and to all this people saying, Thus says Yahweh: Don’t listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you saying, Behold, the vessels of Yahweh’s house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon; for they prophesy a lie to you-
The priests preached and taught the word they were given by the prophets. It was therefore important for the priests to listen to the true words of Yahweh and not the false ones. Jeremiah was a priest, and was asking his own family to therefore listen to him rather than the false prophets. The temple vessels had been taken away so that the temple couldn't function properly. The idea was that the people would be drawn closer to God through realizing that He could be served without the ritual of the temple. And they would be driven to personal relationship with Him rather than depending upon any religious dimension.

Jeremiah 27:17 Don’t listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live: why should this city become a desolation?-
The rhetorical questions are powerful; "Why die?" (:13). The city need not have "become a desolation"; and yet Jeremiah had prophesied 70 years of such "desolation" (s.w. Dan. 9:2). As explained on :7, there were various prophetic scenarios possible at this time. God was so sensitive to human repentance, and the degree of it, that He set up all these various possible scenarios in response to how far they would repent.

Jeremiah 27:18 But if they be prophets, and if the word of Yahweh be with them, let them now make intercession to Yahweh of Armies, that the vessels which are left in the house of Yahweh, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, don’t go to Babylon-
See on :22. The more valuable vessels had already been taken in Jehoiakim and Jeconiah's time (:20). A true prophet would know that Yahweh's word was that Jerusalem and the temple would fall; and knowing this, and knowing Yahweh, the true prophets would have prayed that the word in their mouths would not come true. There is a gap between the Divine statement and its fulfillment, and within that historical gap there was time and opportunity for repentance to change the stated outcome. And a true prophet, like Jeremiah, would have perceived this.

Jeremiah 27:19 For thus says Yahweh of Armies concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the residue of the vessels that are left in this city-
The laver remained after the deportations of :20. This was significant, in that it meant that a way of cleansing and forgiveness was still open, right up to the last moment.

Jeremiah 27:20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon didn’t take, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem-
Perhaps he didn't take them because they were too heavy to easily transport. There is a parallel between the remaining vessels, and the remaining people. They were intended to see themselves as vessels in Yahweh's service. 

Jeremiah 27:21 yes, thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that are left in the house of Yahweh, and in the house of the king of Judah and at Jerusalem-
The implication is that some of the temple vessels had been moved to the royal palace, which had been built of cedar in an attempt to imitate the temple. And the king had moved some of the vessels of Yahweh's house to his own house. This usage of the Divine for ourselves remains an abiding temptation, in essence, for all generations of God's people.

Jeremiah 27:22 They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be, until the day that I visit them, says Yahweh; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place
- The vessels of the temple were to be taken to Babylon- so says Jer. 27:22 plainly enough. But if the false prophets had repented and prayed, the vessels would not be taken to Babylon (Jer. 27:18). Prayer changes things, even the [apparently] expressly stated intention of God.

What Judah prayed for by the rivers of Babylon was indeed heard. There they had asked that God would “visit” them and “return” them (Ps. 80:14). The same two Hebrew words are to be found in Jer. 27:22, where we read that God would exile His people to Babylon and then “visit” them and make them “return”. We meet the same two words in Zeph. 2:7, where God would ‘visit and return’ the captivity of the remnant of Judah. But when God did “visit” His people, just as when He ‘visited’ His people in the gift of His Son, they didn’t want to ‘return’ or respond. Those who had desired ‘the day of the Lord’ at that time had been praying for it, when it was ‘to no end’ for them. And we have to ask ourselves whether we really mean our prayers for the Lord’s return. Jer. 27:22 predicted that God would “visit” His people and “bring them up”. Those very two words are found in the declaration of Cyrus as recorded in 2 Chron. 36:23: “God hath charged [s.w. “visited”] me to build him a house in Jerusalem… who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up [s.w. “bring them up”]”. The most powerful monarch in the Middle East made the humanly bizarre and inexplicable command to “go up” to the land. ‘Going up’ and ‘visiting’ are language associated with Angels. The people were being encouraged to follow the cherubim-Angel. But most of the people said ‘No that’s fine, we’ll give some money, but we’ll stay here thanks. We won’t be ‘going up’’. And in essence, we are so similar as a community.