The Word Made Fresh
1Early in the reign of King Josiah’s son Zedekiah, this word came from the LORD to Jeremiah:
2Make a yoke of straps with bars and wear it on your neck. 3Send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their emissaries who have come to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem. 4Tell them to tell their masters that the LORD of the heavenly armies who is the God of Israel makes this proclamation concerning them: 5“By my great power and outstretched arm I have made the earth and all the people and animals in it, and I can give it to whomever I wish. 6I am handing all these countries over to king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I give even the wild animals to be his subjects. 7All the nations will serve him, his son and his grandson, until the time arrives for his land to be conquered by other great nations and kings.
8“Until then any nation that refuses to serve King Nebuchadnezzar and surrender to his yoke around their necks I will punish with the sword and famine and disease until I have destroyed it by his hand, says the LORD. 9Don’t listen to your prophets and the dreams of prognosticators and seers, or to schemers who tell you not to serve the king of Babylon. 10They are liars, and if you believe them, I will banish you from your land. I will drive you out and you will die. 11But any country that puts its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serves him I will allow to stay in the land to till it and dwell in it,” declares the LORD.
12I gave the same message to King Zedekiah of Judah, telling him that if he wants to live, he must put his neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and become a servant to him and his people. 13Why should you and your citizens die by the sword and famine and disease, which is what the LORD will send against any nation that refuses to serve the king of Babylon? 14Don’t listen to the prophets who press you not to serve the king of Babylon, because they are lying to you. 15The LORD says, “I haven’t sent them; they are giving false prophesies in my name and if you listen to them, I will drive you out and you and your prophets will perish.”
16Then I told the priests and all the people that the LORD says this: “Don’t listen to the prophets who are telling you that in a short while the temple furnishings will be brought back from Babylon. They are lying to you. 17Don’t listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon and live, or else this city will be leveled and ruined. 18If they are really prophets who have the LORD’s words, let them intercede with the LORD of the armies of heaven not to let the contents of the LORD’s temple and the royal palace of Judah be carried off to Babylon.
19This is what the LORD of the armies of heaven has to say about the pillars, the large water basin, the stands, and the rest of the equipment left in the city 20which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not carry off when he deported Jeconiah the son of King Jehoiakim of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon along with all the officials of Judah and Jerusalem. 21The LORD of the armies of heaven makes this decree concerning the contents left in the LORD’s temple and the royal palace of Judah in Jerusalem: 22They will be carried away to Babylon where they will remain until the day I look for them, says the LORD, and then I will bring them back to this place.
1-7: Jump ahead now ten or eleven years to the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar has already carried away Jehoiachin and his officials, remember, and placed his uncle Zedekiah on the throne. Jeremiah takes to carrying a yoke around his neck to illustrate his pronouncements. He now engages in what can only be described as interference in affairs of state. He goes to the envoys from neighboring states and tells them to take back to their capitals the word that it is God’s will that all of them be slaves of Nebuchadnezzar, until God decides it’s time for Babylon to be oppressed.
8-11: Jeremiah actually tells them to persuade their rulers not to resist the Babylonians but succumb to them and willingly place themselves under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. This would be considered treason, of course. Now there was a preacher!
12-15: Jeremiah warns Zedekiah and his officials that the best course is to submit to Nebuchadnezzar. Apparently, Zedekiah is already thinking of the rebellion he will launch later (2 Kings 25:1).
16-22: Now Jeremiah goes to the local priests and tells them and the general public not to listen to any prophet who assures them that the temple items taken to Babylon with Jehoiachin will be brought back. Not only will they stay in Babylon, he says, but the remaining temple vessels and utensils will also be carried away. He tells them the best course is to submit to Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. The pillars, stands, bowls and other vessels of the temple will be returned to the temple when God is good and ready for it.
It takes courage to follow God’s will and God’s way. Others may label you a “holier than thou” person to be shunned and disregarded. Rest assured that God will neither shun nor disregard you.