Jer 27:1 Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Early in the reign of Zedekiah – This was the fourth year of his reign, in the year 593.
Jer 27:2 This is what the LORD said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck.
Yoke – A wooden frame placed on the backs of draft animals to make them pull in tandem. The simple”] yokes consisted of a bar with two loops either of rope or wood which went around the animals’ necks. More elaborate yokes had shafts connected to the middle with which the animals pulled ploughs or other implements. The word is used most often in the Bible to speak of slavery, bondage, and hardship (1 Kings 12:4, Jer. 27:8).
Here, the yoke denotes servitude, both that which is required of these nations and the worse one which will follow if they do not obey the Lord.
There are a number of other instances in the Old Testament of the dramatisation of a prophetic message, eg. Isa 20:3-4; Jer 13:1-11; Eze 4 ; Eze 5:1-4; 1 Ki 11:29-31.
Jer 27:3 Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah.
“Give them a message” – Actually, the Heb. reads, ‘send them…’, not ‘send word…’. The gifts of thongs and yoke-bars would have made disturbing gifts to the visiting diplomats!
Zedekiah was apparently discussing rebellion against Babylon with ambassadors of the nations mentioned, possibly in league with Egypt. This is precisely what Jeremiah has warned Zedekiah against (21:1-10; 24).
‘The task assigned to Jeremiah required great faith, as it was sure to provoke alike his own countrymen and the foreign ambassadors and their kings, by a seeming insult, at the very time that all were full of confident hopes grounded on the confederacy.’ (JFB)
Jer 27:4 Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters:
Jer 27:5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.
In calling the nations to account, he uses the language of the Lord’s strength (cf. Dt. 4:34) to show that he is Creator of all the earth and therefore has the right to subordinate rulers to him (4-7). The point will be finally proven in relation to Babylon itself (v7; cf. 25:12; Dan. 4:25). This lofty view of God, who is Creator and sovereign Lord who governs all things, is typical of this book, Jer 28:13f.; 5:22, 24; 10:12f.
‘God here, as elsewhere, connects with the symbol doctrine, which is as it were its soul, without which it would be not only cold and frivolous, but even dead. Gods mention of His supreme power is in order to refute the pride of those who rely on their own power (Isa 45:12).’ (JFB)
‘Note, Whatever any have of the good things of this world, it is what God sees fit to give them; we ourselves should therefore be content, though we have ever so little, and not envy any their share, though they have ever so much.’ (MHC)
Jer 27:6 Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.
“I will make even the wild animals subject to him” – ‘not merely the horses to carry his Chaldean soldiers, and oxen to draw his provisions [GROTIUS]; not merely the deserts, mountains, and woods, the haunts of wild beasts, implying his unlimited extent of empire [ESTIUS]; but the beasts themselves by a mysterious instinct of nature. A reproof to men that they did not recognize Gods will, which the very beasts acknowledged (compare Isa 1:3). As the beasts are to submit to Christ, the Restorer of the dominion over nature, lost by the first Adam (compare Gen 1:28 2:19,20; Ps 8:6-8), so they were appointed to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, the representative of the world power and prefigurer of Antichrist; this universal power was suffered to be held by him to show the unfitness of any to wield it “until He come whose right it is” (Eze 21:27).’ (JFB)
‘Note, The things of this world are not the best things, for God often gives the largest share of them to bad men, that are rivals with him and rebels against him. He was a wicked man, and yet what he had he had by divine grant.’ (MHC)
Jer 27:7 All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.
“All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson” – a proverbial expression that simply means “they shall serve him for a long time.” Nebuchadnezzar’s son Evil-Merodach did succeed him (Jer 52:31-34; 2 Kings 25:27), but he was followed by his brother-in-law Nergal-Sharezer (Jer. 39:3, 39), not by Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.
“Until the time for his land comes” – ‘that is, of its subjugation or its being “visited” in wrath (Jer 27:22; Jer 25:12; 29:10; 50:27; Dan 5:26). ‘ (JFB)
‘Those that would not serve the God that made them were justly made to serve their enemies that sought to ruin them.’ (MHC)
Jer 27:8 “If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the LORD, until I destroy it by his hand.
The trio of sword, famine and plague (cf. \jer 14:12) typifies the dreadful judgment which would come in the case of refusal of this word.
Jer 27:9 So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’
‘Those nations too would have their false prophets, who would support the ‘establishment’ and say that all was well when it was not (9-10). It was not Judah only that was obliged to seek the truth, or that was subject to the word of the Lord. Nor today is it only those who call themselves Christians.’ (NBC)
Jer 27:10 They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish.
Jer 27:11 But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the LORD.”‘”
‘Some would condemn this as the evidence of a mean spirit, but the prophet recommends it as that of a meek spirit, which yields to necessity, and by a quiet submission to the hardest turns of Providence makes the best of bad: it is better to do so than by struggling to make it worse.’ (MHC)
‘Many might have prevented destroying providences by humbling themselves under humbling providences.’ (MHC)
Jer 27:12 I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah. I said, “Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live.
‘Is it their wisdom to submit to the heavy iron yoke of a cruel tyrant, that they may secure their lives; and is it not much more our wisdom to submit to the pleasant and easy yoke of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, that we may secure our souls? It were well if sinners would be afraid of the destruction threatened against all who will not have Christ to reign over them. Why should they die the second death, infinitely worse than that by sword and famine, when they may submit and live? And those who encourage sinners to go on in sinful ways, will perish with them.’ (MHCC)
Jer 27:13 Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which the LORD has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?
Jer 27:14 Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you.
Jer 27:15 ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.'”
Jer 27:16 Then I said to the priests and all these people, “This is what the LORD says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from the Lord’s house will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you.
“The articles from the Lord’s house will be brought back” – ‘People have always focused more passionately on holy objects than on appeals for holy living.’ (Kidner)
‘The final passage reveals the nature of the false prophets’ message. The setting is one in which the exile has in a sense begun. King Jehoiachin has already been taken captive to Babylon, and some of the treasures of the temple, the rich provision of King Solomon, have been borne off, symbols of the claimed superiority of the Babylonians’ gods. The false prophets have now to argue that these will soon be brought back. Their position increasingly goes against the evidence. Yet they go on holding it. Even what remains of the temple treasures will soon be taken also (19; cf. Jer 52:17; cf. 1 Ki. 7:15-37).’ (NBC)
‘The importance of the loss of these treasures cannot be overestimated for the people of Judah. Their whole understanding of themselves was bound up with these things. The temple and its trappings had indeed been given to them by God. But if they had become themselves the object of their hope (cf. Jer 7:4), then they would have to be taken from them. The exile, in an important sense, consists in the loss of the temple; it is also, however, the opportunity to seek God again in a real way. This is why it was God’s chosen way to the renewal of the people. It is sometimes necessary for God’s people to be shown that they have come to trust in outward things rather than in God himself.’ (NBC)
Actually, these treasures weren’t brought back until God visited the Jews and the remnant returned to Judah after the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1-2).
Jer 27:17 Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this city become a ruin?
Jer 27:18 If they are prophets and have the word of the LORD, let them plead with the LORD Almighty that the furnishings remaining in the house of the LORD and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem not be taken to Babylon.
Jer 27:19 For this is what the LORD Almighty says about the pillars, the Sea, the movable stands and the other furnishings that are left in this city,
Jer 27:20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take away when he carried Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem–
Jer 27:21 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about the things that are left in the house of the LORD and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem:
Jer 27:22 ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares the LORD. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.'”