For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

29:1.  “Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;”


29:2.  “(After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem:)”


The events mentioned in verse two were those which occurred in 597 BC, and are described in detail in 2 Ki 24:10-16.


29:3.  “By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), saying,”


The two men mentioned here were they whom Zedekiah had sent to Babylon as his ambassadors.


29:4.  “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;”


29:5.  “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”


29:6.  “Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.”


This stands in stark contrast with the lying words of Hananiah who had assured the people that their sojourn in Babylon would be a mere two years.  Jeremiah’s letter was to prepare them for a much longer stay: seventy years.  But the time was not to be spent in idle regret.  They were to live in the land of their captivity as they had lived in Canaan, and in this God would have us learn a truth relative to how we are to live our lives here on earth while awaiting our departure to heaven.


Babylon represents the world of false religion, the enemy of God and of His people.  It is, in fact, a type of this world in which we have to live until our going home to heaven; and we too are to “build houses,” spiritual houses: local churches composed of living stones: men and women whom we bring to the Lord Jesus Christ through a faithful witness in the Gospel. 


The garden is also a type of the local church as a place which produces fruit for God’s glory and satisfaction, and in which is found spiritual food to satisfy our own souls also, that work being accomplished by diligent study, and ministry to one another through sound teaching.


The godly wife is the scriptural symbol of the expression of the believer’s spiritual life, while sons portray the activity of the will in doing God’s will; and daughters, the submission of the will to God’s will.  Verse six therefore portrays the Spirit-directed activity of the life in doing all that God commands, and in refraining from all that He forbids.


29:7.  “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”


This is the spiritual portrait of another activity in which we are to engage while awaiting our departure to heaven: we are to do everything in our power to promote peace in the world by being ourselves models of godly living, by faithfully preaching the Gospel, and by being equally faithful in praying for the preservation of peace.  In doing these things we will be able to walk in the enjoyment of that inner peace which is available only to obedient believers, see Php 4:5-7, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be careful (anxious) for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


29:8.  “For thus saith the Lord of hosts (armies), the God of Israel; Let not your (false) prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.”


In declaring Himself to be “the Lord of hosts (armies)” God was reminding them, and us, that He is omnipotent; and in describing Himself also as “the God of Israel” He was assuring them that His power is exercised for the blessing of those who obey Him, for Israel means commanded by God: he shall be prince of God, i.e., one who obeys God will eventually reign or rule with Christ, as it is written, “If we suffer (endure), we shall reign with him,” 2 Tim 2:12; “... and we shall reign on the earth,” Re 5:10; “... and they shall reign for ever and ever,” Re 22:5.


All of this was to encourage them not to heed the false prophets; and us, not to heed false teachers.  Diviners were readers of signs; and dreamers were those who pretended to have been given revelations from God by means of dreams.  Their counterparts flourish today in the form of false teachers, and as Judah was not to heed the false prophets, neither are we to heed the lying teachers with which apostate Christendom abounds.


29:9.  “For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.”


As there were many in that day who demonstrated by their lives, and lies pronounced in God’s name, that they had no commission from Him, so also today are there teachers so-called who also demonstrate clearly that they have neither been gifted nor called by Him.  It is to be noted further that the false prophets outnumbered those whom God had commissioned, and so is it also today.  We are no more to listen to today’s false teachers than were the people of that day to listen to the false prophets.


29:10.  “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”


29:11.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”


This is the reminder that God’s dealings with one generation may not be interpreted as His predetermined dealings with all generations.  The fact is that each generation determines by its conduct what God’s conduct towards it will be, the principle governing His response being unalterable: obedience commands His blessing; disobedience, His chastisement.  No matter how many generations of Israel may disobey, and thereby incur chastisement, the fact remains, that by His foreknowledge God knows that there will emerge from the terrible Tribulation judgments a repentant believing remnant of Israel and of the nations that will inherit the millennial blessings forfeited for so long by so many disobedient generations.


The same principle applies to His dealings with individuals: those who repent of their sins, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, will be eternally blessed; those who refuse to repent and trust, will be eternally damned.  God, however, will never compel obedience.  Each individual is given the freedom to choose his own eternal destiny.


“... an expected end” is also translated a hopeful future: to let you have hope for the future: reserving a future full of hope for you.


29:12.  “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”


In spite of the fact that countless generations of Jews, and Gentiles have made themselves heirs of eternal doom, God still foreknows that the Tribulation judgments will produce that repentant, believing generation of both that will inherit eternal blessing.


29:13.  “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”


The casual, halfhearted seeker is here warned that he will never find God, for the salvation of one’s soul is a life and death matter, in comparison to which all other things pale into insignificance.


29:14.  “And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”


While certainly this may have reference to their return from Babylon at the end of seventy years, the mention of “all the nations,” and “all the places” indicates that the ultimate application is to their post-Tribulation regathering from the Diaspora.


29:15.  “Because ye have said, The Lord hath raised us up prophets in Babylon;”


29:16.  “Know that thus saith the Lord of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity;”


“... the king that sitteth upon the throne of David” was Zedekiah, who by heeding the false prophets, foolishly rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, with the result that the fate foretold in the next verse, overtook them.


29:17.  “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.”


During their captivity in Babylon, false prophets claiming to have been sent by God, had arisen, and were declaring that the captivity would be of short duration, and that they would soon be back in their own land again.  God, however, had a very different message for them.  Not only would they not be able to return in a short time, but those whom Nebuchadnezzar had allowed to remain in the land in 597 BC, would listen also to false prophets, and would rebel further, with the result that in 586 BC the Babylonians would again invade the land, destroying Temple and city, devastating the land, slaughtering thousands, and carrying the survivors captive into Babylon to join those already there, all of them having to remain in captivity for seventy years.


By heeding their false prophets the people would make themselves like rotten figs that must be thrown away as refuse, see chapter 24.


29:18.  “And I will persecute them with the sword, and with famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have drive them:”


This was partially fulfilled in 586 BC, but its full accomplishment came in AD 70 when the Romans were God’s instrument of destruction, the scattering that accompanied that terrible judgment leaving the Jews still scattered amongst the nations, except for the small remnant that has been returning to the land since the restoration of Jewish autonomy in 1948, that return being itself one of the signs that these are the closing days of the age that will culminate with the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation.


29:19.  “Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord.”


In spite of every effort made by God to warn them, they refused to listen.  Generation after generation had ignored His warning, and now it was too late.  Their doom was sealed.  And so is it with this present generation of apostate Christendom.  It too has ignored all warning, mocked God’s messengers, and defied Him to His face, and now it too must perish in the impending Tribulation judgments.


29:20.  “Hear ye therefore, the word of the Lord all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon:”


Those already in captivity in Babylon were commanded again to hear God’s further warning.


29:21.  “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, of Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and of Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, which prophesy a lie unto you in my name; Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall slay them before your eyes.”


These two, about whom nothing else is known, may perhaps have been leaders amongst the false prophets who predicted a speedy return of the Jews already in Babylon.  God had not given them that message, but He had a very different message for them: He would deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar who would execute them right before the eyes of the dupes who had heeded their lies.


29:22.  “And of them shall be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in Babylon, saying, the Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire.”


These two lying prophets paid a terrible price for their sin, for clearly Nebuchadnezzar had had them roasted alive, their awful fate giving rise to the curse that would be pronounced against someone hated, “May the Lord make you like Ahab and Zedekiah whom Nebuchadnezzar roasted alive.”


29:23.  “Because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.”


The terrible death they suffered was doubtless because of their phenomenal wickedness, not only in prophesying lies, but in committing adultery.


“... even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord,” reminds us that the God with Whom we have to deal is not only omnipotent, but omniscient also. He knows our very thoughts.


29:24.  “Thus shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,”


29:25.  “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,”


29:26.  “The Lord hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the Lord, for every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks.”


29:27.  “Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you?”


Zephaniah had become the leading priest because Jehoiadah had been carried captive to Babylon.


Nothing is known of this Shemaiah other than what is written here.  He was a false prophet amongst those who had been carried to Babylon, and had written to Zephaniah the priest in Jerusalem, reprimanding him for not having imprisoned Jeremiah whom he referred to as a madman claiming falsely to be a prophet.  It was Shemaiah, however, who was the madman for claiming to be a prophet, when God had neither fitted nor called him to that office.


29:28.  “For therefore he sent unto us in Babylon, saying, This captivity is long: build ye houses, and dwell in them, and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.”


The reference here is to what God had commanded Jeremiah to tell those who had been carried away to Babylon, see verses 5-6.


29:29.  “And Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the ears of Jeremiah the prophet.”


29:30.  “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying,”


29:31.  “Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie:”


29:32.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will punish Shemiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my people, saith the Lord; because he hath taught rebellion against the Lord.”


Zephaniah, instead of carrying out Shemaiah’s evil instructions, read the letter to Jeremiah, whom God then instructed to write to the captives in Babylon, informing them of the punishment God had decreed against the lying Shemaiah: he would be bereft of posterity, nor would he himself ever see the good that God would eventually do to His people.


So will it be with apostate Christendom’s false teachers.  Those of them who survive the terrible Tribulation judgments will be cast into hell following Christ’s judgment of the nations in the interval between the end of the Tribulation and the inauguration of His glorious millennial kingdom.

[Jeremiah 30]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough