What does it say?
These events of Jeremiah 26 occur during the reign of king Jehoiakim. Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry has earned him many enemies that want him dead. Jeremiah addresses the leaders and warns them against shedding his innocent blood. Jeremiah escapes their wrath, but a man named Urijah, mentioned only here, is martyred at the hands of the leaders.
Jeremiah 27-28 opens as Babylon has already taken the first group of Jews captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. The Babylonians have placed Zedekiah on the throne as their puppet. Already a resistance movement is building in Jerusalem. God tells Jeremiah to put a wooden yoke on his neck and walk through the streets as a symbol that submission to the yoke of Babylon is the only way out, not trying to fight Babylon.
In Jeremiah 29 the prophet pens a letter to those captives deported to Babylon, Ezekiel among them. He informs them that the captivity will last a full 70 years and that they should therefore settle down and live a normal life in Babylon. Afterwards God will bring a remnant back to the land.
What does it mean?
From a missional perspective we can see that God finally brings judgment upon his people for their sin. Yet even in judgment there is hope of restoration, and we also see that God’s mission does not change. God’s desire has been for the nations to flow to Jerusalem to worship him. Failing in that because of his people’s sin, God is now sending his people to the nations. For the past two centuries Europe and North America have led the advance of God’s mission to the peoples of the world, in obedience to Christ telling us to go and make disciples to the uttermost of the earth. As churches in the traditional West have often wandered off mission, God is now bringing the nations to them.
On a personal application level it is interesting to see how God tells his people to simply accept what is going to happen with the captivity. Instead, they want to take up the battle themselves. How often do we make the same mistake? The church often takes up political and cultural battles that are perhaps over in God’s eyes.
How will I respond?
Am I fighting battles that God says are over or that belong to him alone? Could it be that much of my energy as a believer is given to such futile battles rather than invested in the mission of making disciples of every group of people? How will I answer?