First Letter to the Exiles
Verse 1 – Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive – to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried from Jerusalem to Babylon.
There were two carrying’s away to Babylon, about eleven or twelve years apart. The first was in the time of Jehoiakim, about 10 thousand; all the mighty men, craftsmen and smiths were carried away.
Verse 2 – This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.
Verse 3 – The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
Verse 4 – Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Verse 5 – Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.
Verse 6 – Take wives and begat sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that you may be increased there, and not diminished.
Verse 7 – And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
Jeremiah’s letter must have arrived shortly after the exiles did. This was a heads-up that their stay would be a long one. Then he urged them to pray for Babylon to the Lord.
1 Timothy 2:1, 2 – Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, (verse 2) for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
Verse 8 – For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you nor listen to your dreams which you caused to be dreamed.
Verse 9 – For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.
Verse 10 – For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.
Verse 11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God knows each one of our futures. They are to do us good and not evil. Our deliverance is not depended on our merits, its because of God’s mercy and grace that is extended to each one of His children. This does not mean that as we go through this Christian life we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardships, but that God All Mighty will lead us every step of the way to a glorious conclusion. You have to believe this to receive this!
Verse 12 – Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
Verse 13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Even though you may be in the worst situation you have ever been in, God wants you to know there is always hope if you stay close to Him. God may be preparing you as He did the exiles from Judah, for a new beginning with Him at the center. Seek Him with all your heart and He promises to give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Verse 14 – I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
God intends to bring them back to their land and restore their prosperity. Our God can and does restore His people. He also will restore that which the enemy has stolen from you. I’m not just blowing steam. I have seen His hand many times restoring things in my own life. Never forget that He loves you and wants each one of you to have an abundant life full of joy and gladness because He died and rose again for you to have it!
Verse 15 – Because you have said, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon” –
Verse 16 – therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, concerning all the people who dwell in this city, and concerning your brethren who have not gone out with you into captivity –
Verse 17 – thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad.
The people left in Jerusalem who were not among the initial exiles will be made like rotten figs.
Verse 18 – And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth – to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all nations where I have driven them,
Verse 19 – because they have not heeded My words, says the Lord, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the Lord.
Verse 20 – Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.
Verse 21 – Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to 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 false prophets, Ahab and Zedekiah, are not the same men who had the same name as the kings. Their family connections clearly identify them.
Verse 22 – And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire”;
Verse 23 – because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the Lord.
Ahab and Zedekiah were two prophets singled out for committing adultery with their neighbors wives as well as prophesying lies. So heinous were their lying prophecies that the king of Babylon would charge them with treason and condemn them to death by burning.
Verse 24 – You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,
Verse 25 – Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zphaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
Verse 26 – “The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the house of the Lord over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks.
Shemaiah the Nehelamite was another false prophet. He had apparently ordered the priest Zephaniah to silence Jeremiah. Zephaniah was warden over police regulations in the temple. Shemaiah charged Jeremiah with being a madman.
Verse 27 – Now therefore, why have you not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you?
Verse 28 – For he sent to us in Babylon, saying, ‘This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit.’ ”
To discredit Jeremiah, Shemaiah accused him of false prophecy.
Verse 29 – Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.
Verse 30 – Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying:
Verse 31 – “Send to all those in captivity, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust a lie,”
Verse 32 – ‘therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among the people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people,” says the Lord, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord.” ‘ ”
Shemaiah would not have any descendants or see the restoration God had predicted. No harm, however came to Jeremiah, in fulfillment of God’s promise to Him!