The Yoke’s on You!

October 1, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 7 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapters 27-29 deal with the battle between Jeremiah, the true prophet, and the false prophets who held the positions of favor and influence in the government. Jeremiah was no politician, but there is no doubt that God called him to minister not only in affairs of the heart, but in affairs of state at times also.

Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,

Jeremiah 27:2

Jeremiah was here called to use another object as a symbol and to preach an “illustrated” or “action” sermon. The yoke is a well-known Bible symbol because of it’s ubiquity in agrarian societies, where pulling-animals like oxen needed to be hitched to plows and carts. It is even used notably in the New Testament where Jesus said,

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30

A yoke was a wooden collar attached with leather thongs.

Jeremiah had been put in stocks against his will, but now he was voluntarily wearing a yoke to make a point.

And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;

Jeremiah 27:3

The historical backstory is that Babylon, even prior to conquering Judah, had conquered other nations, such as Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Tyre-and-Zidon, and made them vassal states, with Babylon as their suzerain. Under suzerainty treaties the suzerain took tribute and submission from the vassal nation in exchange for “protection.” Zedekiah, acting as king of Judah, decided that he would join an alliance of these vassal states in a conspiracy against Babylon. Jeremiah knew that such a strategy would not help – and, in fact, would make things worse – because it would be opposed by God, Who had made Nebuchadnezzar His “servant.” Jeremiah showed up at the meeting of the ambassadors of these nations wearing an ox-yoke, and he had made or brought one for each of them to take back home to their kings!

And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.

Jeremiah 27:8

This would not have been popular political advice, but it carried the authenticity of God’s past dealing and covenant promises, and it was not really classified as “political advice” as much as it was true “prophetic warning.” Jeremiah’s desire for popularity was virtually non-existent, anyway.

Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:

Jeremiah 27:9

Divining and enchantment and sorcery were major red flags that should have immediately disqualified these “prophets” from gaining a hearing with the king, much less actually being heeded, and “dreamers” should have caused similar skepticism.

Also I spake to the priests and to all this people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Hearken not to the words of your prophets that prophesy unto you, saying, Behold, the vessels of the LORD’s house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you.

Jeremiah 27:16

The false prophets were predicting two years before the return of the captives with the accessories, furniture, and vessels used in Temple worship, but Jeremiah knew better.

Tangentially, why would Nebuchadnezzar take these Temple furnishings, anyway? Perhaps for their worth, since they were made from precious metals, but, more likely, for their ostentatious and arrogant display in the temples of his false gods, so they could be viewed as spoils of war. On the other hand, why would he leave any of the items at all? Maybe because he didn’t care if those left behind participated in Yahweh-worship, or maybe because he had so many treasures already that he wasn’t easily impressed. This reminds us that the devil doesn’t care if you go to church as long as your heart is not really participating in, or affected by, the worship of God. If he has lured you away from loving Jesus, he really doesn’t care that much what sort of motions you go through. The end of Jeremiah Chapter 27 tells us that those things would be taken to Babylon eventually, anyway, but would be ultimately brought back at God’s appointed time.

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  1. […] Chapter 28 features a false prophet named Hananiah who stepped up to face Jeremiah and to challenge his message and authority. Even […]

  2. […] have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the […]

  3. […] Chapters 27-29 appear to be grouped together under the theme of Jeremiah’s battle against the false prophets. Chapters 30-33 seem to be grouped together as promises of restoration. They are yet another […]

  4. […] Yoked means attached. The kingdom of Satan is sometimes attached to a lost person (possession), or, as pointed out by Jesus, in some cases it is attached to a “movement.” […]

  5. […] problems started, though, when the Ammonites, one of the conspirator-nations in the old plot against Babylon, used a man name Ishmael to plot the assassination of Gedaliah. Johanan, one of his loyal officers, […]

  6. […] getting around, and several government officals heard about it. This was clear evidence that Jeremiah had been right all along about the Babylonian invasion, and that the false prophets had bee…. Some of the officials and scribes were afraid for Jeremiah’s sake (and rightly so), and were […]

  7. […] people who had rejected his true prophecies, and there the Lord had him act out his final “action sermon,” demonstrating that Egypt would not be a safe haven. It too would be conquered by the […]


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