Jeremiah 27-28

We are finally here!  This is it!  Are you excited?  Having studied Jeremiah chronologically for 2/3 of his writings, we are finally to the first year of the reign of Zedekiah!  “For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.” (1 Ne. 1:4)  “Many prophets,” it says, and specifically “in that same year.”  One of the miseries of Jeremiah’s ministry was the great loneliness of being a gloom and doom prophet.  To be the only voice of dissent amongst a wicked people must have weighed heavily upon him.  Therefore, we might hope that other prophets warning the people gave Jeremiah great hope.  Lehi’s warning was brief, within one year; Jeremiah had been at it with the kings of Judah for almost 30 years by then.
There is no evidence that Lehi and Jeremiah ever crossed paths.  We might imagine that they did and that Lehi was a great comfort to Jeremiah.  While their missions were the same for a year, their lives would take completely different courses:  Jeremiah would remain in Jerusalem, be imprisoned, then courted off to Egypt; Lehi would leave Jerusalem, wander in the wilderness for 8 years, and then travel to the Promised Land.
“Jeremiah is an Old Testament prophet of particular interest to Mormons because he lived and preached in Jerusalem during the same time period as Lehi, the founder of the primary Book of Mormon colony in the Americas. Both prophets had a clear understanding of the destruction awaiting Jerusalem and, since they actively preached this destruction, they were threatened and persecuted.
“Both men also received insights into future events concerning the Israelites, and, in particular, they prophesied about a later gathering when the Israelites would return to their promised land and be recognized as the Lord's chosen people. Both prophets anticipated a partial return of Israelites or Jews after the Babylonian captivity and foresaw a later and more significant return when the Messiah would come in power as Israel's great deliverer.” (Victor L. Ludlow, Unlocking the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 179)
Jeremiah 27:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (you mean Zedekiah?)
In the introduction above, we just declared we had reached the first year of Zedekiah and the text begins with Jehoiakim! That doesn’t make sense.  Well, verse 1 should be “in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah” not Jehoiakim.  Look at verse 3.  The Lord has a message to be delivered by the couriers which come to Zedekiah king of Judah from Edom, Moab, etc. Jeremiah is supposed to send his message by the hands of the couriers of Zedekiah’s day.  Therefore, he could not have received this instruction in the days of Jehoiakim.  Don’t be too surprised to find mistakes like this in the Bible.  They are actually quite frequent.
Jeremiah 27:2-3 Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck
Jeremiah is a prophet to the surrounding nations as well as Jerusalem.  The warning goes out to Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, and the Philistine kings of Tyrus and Sidon. In addition to this “bond and yoke” prophecy, Jeremiah had received specific prophecies for each of these nations:
·         Edom:             Jer. 49:7-22
·         Moab:            Jer. 48
·         Ammonites:   Jer. 49:1-6
·         Philistines:    Jer. 47
Jeremiah 27:5-6 I have made the earth… And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar
Americans like the idea of personal property and land ownership.  The American Indians have a different, more harmonious conception of man’s relationship to land.  In this Jeremiah passage, we learn that mortals don’t own land unless the Lord grants them permission.  He made the earth and the ground and He gives it to whomever He wants.  It is not our choice but His. Properly understood, our land is a stewardship not an ownership.  If God created the earth, then He has the right to take it away from the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Zidon.  He has the right to give it to Nebuchadnezzar if He wants. 
Jeremiah 27:8 the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon… that nation will I punish
Lorenzo Snow
When the Lord called upon the Prophet Jeremiah, he told him that his purposes were not confined to the people of Israel, but that he was interested in the welfare and salvation of all nations. On a certain occasion he was commanded to make yokes and to place them upon his neck; and when the messengers from the various nations should come to visit Israel, he was to send those yokes to their masters, their kings, and tell them what his mind and will were concerning them. The yokes were sent to six different nations, with a message requiring of those several kings certain duties. Those nations did not profess to believe in God; they worshipped idols, but God had respect to them notwithstanding. And it would not be a matter of astonishment to know that those people stood upon a far higher plane of morality and faith in God than the people of our boasted nineteenth century. Now, the Lord told them that it was his intention to make a certain person king over all the nations including theirs, and he required them to submit to this change in their governmental affairs, as he had appointed Nebuchadnezzar to hold dominion over all nations and peoples, and over the beasts of the field. “All these things are mine (says the Lord) and have I not the right to do with them as I please? Now you nations, if you do not wish to be uprooted, listen to the voice of my servant Jeremiah, and bow your necks to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.”  Even His own people Israel whom He had called and proposed to lift up in the eyes of the nations, Jeremiah was commanded to tell them to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, and thus permit themselves to go into captivity; which if they did not they should be overthrown, and Jerusalem destroyed. But they would not listen. They worshipped false gods, and they obeyed not the voice of the Almighty; but were guilty of all kinds of abominations, and were so full of wickedness that the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he permitted him, whom he called his servant, Nebuchadnezzar, to destroy their Temple, break down their altars, and scatter them throughout his kingdom. (Journal of Discourses, 23:339)
Jeremiah 27:14 the prophets that speak unto you saying Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon… prophesy a lie unto you
The Old Testament tradition is that the Lord will save Israel from the hands of his enemies.  Usually, the prophets tell the king, “trust in God, not in your allies,” and you will prevail against your enemies.  Listen to what Isaiah told wicked king Ahaz, “fear not… because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it… Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” (Isa. 7:3-7) 
That is precisely the message that the false prophets are telling Zedekiah, “your enemies will not succeed; you will not be slaves in Babylon.”  That was the message of Isaiah and the message must have sounded true to Zedekiah.  Even Jeremiah admitted that “the prophets that have been before me… prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms” (Jer 28:8). But through wickedness, the Jews had lost the right to God’s protection.  The tables have turned; it’s the Jewish nation against whom the prophecies are directed. 
Jeremiah 27:19 concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea
The pillars of Solomon’s Temple were large bronze columns on either side of the portico entrance.  One represented King David, the other King Solomon
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The sea, on the other hand, should be familiar to all Latter-day Saints.  We don’t know exactly what Solomon’s looked like but it may have very similar to the baptismal fonts in modern day temples.
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The sea sat outside the portico in the courtyard of the temple.  It was used for purification for the priests.  It is nice to think baptisms were performed there, but there is no evidence in the Old Testament to that effect.
Jeremiah 27:19-22 concerning… the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord… They shall be carried to Babylon
Jerusalem was really conquered in 3 stages.
1.    Stage I:  In the 11th year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Eliakim), Nebuchadnezzar came against him and took 3000 captives including Ezekiel, took many of the vessels of the house of the Lord and put them in a temple in Babylon, and killed Jehoiakim the king.  He established his son, Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) instead. (2 Chron. 36:7; Josephus, Antiquities, Book X,  6:3)
2.    Stage II:  3.5 months later, Nebuchadnezzar came against Jehoiachin who he had just put in as king.  He bound him to take him to Babylon with 10,832 more captives and then ransacked the temple, “And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord.” (2 Kings 24:13-15; Josephus, Antiquities, Book X, 7:1)
3.    Stage III:  11th year of Zedekiah, temple is destroyed and the only things left in the temple, the pillars, the sea, the bases, and some more vessels, are taken by Nebuchadnezzar.  Zedekiah’s eyes are put out and he is taken to Babylon.
This prophecy of Jeremiah is not long after Zedekiah has been made king—between stages II and III.  The ransacking disaster of the treasures of the temple was still on the minds of the Jews.  There were only a few items of monetary value left, the sea, the pillars, the bases, and a few leftover vessels.  The false prophets were saying they would soon be restored to the temple.  Jeremiah had a different message. He said nothing would be restored until after 70 years of captivity. (Jer. 29:10)
Jeremiah 28:1-2 Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet… spake unto me in the house of the Lord
Hananiah is about to prove that he is a false prophet, but he has the credentials.  He knows the lingo, daring to speak in the name of the Lord, “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.” His credentials come from his father, an otherwise unknown prophet, Azur.  If Jeremiah refers to Azur as a prophet, then he must have been one of the many righteous prophets of Jeremiah’s day.  We can add him to the rather long list of prophets at this time, but we can’t say the same for his son Hananiah.  Maybe the lesson is, you can’t trust the prophecies of a prophet’s son, or you can’t trust the authority of a General Authority’s son, or you can’t trust the teachings of a scholar’s son.
Jeremiah 28:6 the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied
Hugh Nibley
Jeremiah agrees that what Hananiah said would be great. He says, "I like what you say. It's very pleasing. I would think that was wonderful if it happened that way." Verse 6: "Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place." He's not an evil wisher, not a spiteful character. He just says, "That's not the way it's going to be. What we will have to do is just wait and see how it turns out…”  And the prophet Jeremiah went his way." He didn't fight or argue about it. He would just have to wait and see how it turned out. The interesting thing is that he said, "Three cheers for Hananiah. I only hope you're right, but I know you're not." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990 [Provo: FARMS], 1:71)
Jeremiah 28:9 the prophet which prophesieth of peace, then the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known
This is the universal test of a prophet:  if the word of the prophet comes to pass, then he is a true prophet.  Jeremiah expected to be judged by this standard; he wisely applies it to Hananiah.  Especially since Hananiah has given his prophecy a 2 year time limit, it should be easy to see.  It is always amazing with those who predict the end of the world!  It is so easy to sound prophetic before the appointed day, but when the day comes and goes, and nothing happens, these prophets dwindle into insignificance.  Hananiah would do more than dwindle into insignificance, the Lord would smite him long before the 2-year limit.
“This was truly a test for Judah to see if they could determine the word of God and his will and then have the courage to obey. Whereas the word of the Lord to Isaiah had warned of the danger of an alliance with Syria and Israel or with the Assyrians (Isa. 7-8), the word of the Lord to Jeremiah was to submit. The most reliable way to discern the words of the Lord from the words of men is through the power of the Spirit (D&C 18:34-35; D&C 68:3-4), but another reliable key to prophecy was to be found already in the Law of Moses: ‘When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously’ (Deut. 18:22; see also Jer. 28:9).” (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 205)
Hugh B. Brown
Prophetic warning is another test of a prophet.
These witnesses and messengers boldly declare that they are commissioned agents of the Lord, authorized to speak for him. In other words, they claim to have authority… If a prophet is really an agent of God and makes a prediction in his name, we will then expect that God will validate his message by fulfilling his prophecies concerning things which only God himself could bring to pass. And so each prophet is also an authorized agent of God. (Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 143)
Jeremiah 28:15-16 The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie… this year thou shalt die
Sherem was stricken by the power of God and died (Jacob 7:13-20).  Korihor was trampled down like an ant on the sidewalk (Alma 30:59).  Hananiah made his presumptuous prophecy in the 5th month; he was dead by the 7th month.  Mormon commented, “thus we seen the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” (Alma 30:60).