Jeremiah 29:1-32 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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A Letter and a Message
Comments for Study 22

Jeremiah 29:1-32
Memory Verse: 29:7

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I. The Time (29:1-3)

Judah's Fall Timeline

>1. What does this chapter consist of? (1, 3)

* Jeremiah 29:1 "This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon."

* Jeremiah 29:3 "He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:"

* "Nebuchadnezzar" -Nebuchadnezzar (634562 B.C.) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned from 605562 B.C. The Akkadian name means "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's "beloved" and "favourite". Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its three centuries of vassalage to its fellow Mesopotamian state Assyria, and in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, laid Nineveh in ruins. During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders.

* "had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon" -Four times Nebuchadnezzar took captives from Judah to Babylon. See above "Israel's History" for more information.

* "the prophets" -Daniel was taken to Babylon during the first exile (605 B.C.). Ezekiel was taken to Babylon during the second exile (597 B.C.).

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Babylon Ishtar gate

* See a picture of a reconstruction of the Babylon Ishtar gate to the right. The great Ishtar Gate, dedicated to the goddess of that name, and one of the most impressive monuments rediscovered in the ancient East, formed one of the principal entrances into Babylon. It was one of the elaborate building projects of Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B. c.) who was determined to beautify his capital, and who also restored the temple of the chief god Marduk and built himself a splendid new palace with the famous "Hanging Gardens". We are told in the Bible that this was the king of Babylon who brought the Kingdom of Judah to an end and carried off its people into exile. King Jehoiachin, who spent many years in Babylon as a prisoner, must have seen this massive gateway many times like many other exiles. The Ishtar Gate was the starting point for processions, which assembled in front of it, marched through the triumphal arch and proceeded along the Sacred Way to the seven-storied ziggurat which was crowned by the temple of Marduk. The gateway, which is flanked by twin towers and ornamented with pinnacles, is completely covered with colored enameled bricks. Dragons and bulls are molded in relief, the animals symbolizing the gods Marduk and Adad. The bright yellow and brown beasts are surrounded by tiles of glorious blue, tinted with lapis/lazuli dust. In front of the gateway outside the city there was a road whose walls were decorated with lions, in reliefs of glazed yellow tiles. The Ishtar Gate was reconstructed in Berlin out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

>What is the time frame? (2)

* Jeremiah 29:2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)"

* "King Jehoiachin" -Jehoiachin (597 B.C.) was taken to Babylon in the first Exile in 597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar after only three months as king of Judah. (2 Kings 24:10-17; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10) He was put into chains. Years later Nebuchadnezzar released him from prision and allowed him to eat at his table. (2 Kings 25:27-30)

* 2 Chronicles 36:9-10 "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon, together with articles of value from the temple of the LORD, and he made Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem."

* Jehoiakim (609-597 B.C.) was king at this time. He ambitious, cruel and corrupt. (2 Kings 23:36-37; 2 Chronicles 36:2-8) Egypt's Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments. (2 Kings 23:33-34) In the third and fourth years of his reign Babylon defeated Egypt and besieged Jerusalem.

* 2 Chronicles 36:5-8 "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the LORD and put them in his temple there. The other events of Jehoiakim's reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king."

* "the court officials" -

* "the craftsmen and the artisans" -

* "gone into exile from Jerusalem" -

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II. The Letter (29:4-23)

>2. What news did the Lord want the exiles to know? (4-6)

* Jeremiah 29:4-6 "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease."

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>What were they to do that must have seen completely ridiculous? (7)

* Jeremiah 29:7 "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

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>How is Jesus' teaching the same? (Matthew 5:43-48)

* Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

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>3. Who was it important to ignore? (8-9)

* Jeremiah 29:8-9 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD."

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>While we wait for Jesus' coming how can we apply these words to our lives?

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>4. How long would the captivity be? (10-11)

* Jeremiah 29:10-11 "This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

* "seventy years" -See chapter 25 also.

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>HOw can we find God? (13-14)

* Jeremiah 29:13-14 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

* Deuteronomy 4:29-31 "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath."

* 1 Chronicles 28:9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."

* Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

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>Is he confined to a location or a time?

* "I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you" -God is everywhere and hears his people prayers no matter where they are.

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>5. What did the exiles believe? (15)

* Jeremiah 29:15 "You may say, "The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,"

* None of Daniel's prophecies were directed to the exiles. Almost all of Ezekiel's first 39 chapters were before the exile and the remaining chapters are about the new temple. Thus only perhaps Ezekiel chapter 11 was directed to the exiles. Therefore, Jeremiah is the only recorded prophet to speak to the exiles.

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>What should they realize about those who still remained in Judah? (16-18)

* Jeremiah 29:16-18 "but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David's throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile-- yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them."

* "poor figs" -Also in chapter 24.

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>What did neither group do? (19)

* Jeremiah 29:19 For they have not listened to my words," declares the LORD, "words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either," declares the LORD."

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>6. What vivid sign would the Lord give them to show them Jeremiah spoke the truth? (20-21)

* Jeremiah 29:20-21 "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: "I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes."

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>What fruit in the lives of the false prophets proved they were not of the Lord? (22-23)

* Jeremiah 29:22-23 "Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: 'The LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.' For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and in my name have spoken lies, which I did not tell them to do. I know it and am a witness to it," declares the LORD."

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>How did Jesus say the same thing? (Matthew 7:15-23)

* Matthew 7:15-23 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

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III. The Message (29:24-32)

>7. What did Shemaiah do? (24-25)

* Jeremiah 29:24-25 "Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah,"

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>What did he want the religious leaders in Jerusalem to do? (26-27)

* Jeremiah 29:26-27 "'The LORD has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the LORD; you should put any madman who acts like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons. So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you?"

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>How does his words show his hate?

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>8. Why was Shemaiah so upset with Jeremiah? (28)

* Jeremiah 29:28 "He has sent this message to us in Babylon: It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.'"

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>Why didn't he want to accept the Lords' words?

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>How does this show us the importance of Bible study and obedience?

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>9. What did the priest do?

* Jeremiah 29:29 "Zephaniah the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet."

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>What would happen to the false prophet?

* Jeremiah 29:30-32 "Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: "Send this message to all the exiles: 'This is what the LORD says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has led you to believe a lie, this is what the LORD says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares the LORD, because he has preached rebellion against me.'"

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>How should this be a warning to us?

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