Jeremiah's Strange Commission When Israel was driven out of Assyria, 721 B. C., Judah had not yet sinned as a nation. Through Hosea, God said, "Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend." (Hos, 4:15). But later "her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also," and God finally said, "The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous sister Judah." (Jeremiah 3:8-11). And so, 117-140 years after Israel's captivity, the time came when God drove out the Jews, too, in national captivity, and banishment, for their 2520 years of national punishment. For this purpose God raised up a very special prophet, whose real call and commission few, indeed, understand. This prophet was Jeremiah. He was one of the three men, only, who were sanctified before they were born. The other two were John the baptist and Jesus Christ. (See Jer. 1:5). Jeremiah, when first given his vital call and commission, was a young lad of 17. Before he finally completed it, he was an aged white-haired patriarch. The commission is recorded in Jeremiah 1:10: "See," God says to Jeremiah, "I have this day set thee over the nations and over kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, TO BUILD, AND TO PLANT." There it is! Jeremiah was set over THE nations more than one. He was a Jew, living in Judah. He was set a prophet over Judah but not Judah alone. Over THE nations Judah and ISRAEL! He was set over them to do two things: to tear down something, and then to build and to plant something. Jeremiah was used of God as a prophet to warn Judah of their sins, and of the coming invasion and captivity at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon unless they repented. He was used as a mediary, a go-between, between the kings of Judah and Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean king. It is well known that Jeremiah was used in destroying the kingdom of Judah. But note it in your Bible! he also was commissioned to PLANT and to BUILD! What was he to plant and build? Why, naturally, that which was pulled down and rooted out of Judah the THRONE OF DAVID. He was set over THE KINGDOMS Israel as well as Judah. He was used in throwing down that throne from Judah. Then what was he commissioned to do in ISRAEL? Ah! Note it! The second half of his strange and little understood commission to PLANT AND TO BUILD! So far as the world knows, the last king to sit on that throne of David was Zedekiah of Judah. He was thrown down off it, and the throne rooted out of Judah in the year 585 B. C. nearly 600 years before Christ! What, then! Did God forget His covenant with David? Did the throne CEASE? True, the KINGDOM the GOVERNMENT of Judah ceased, as had the kingdom of Israel more than 130 years before! But see what else Jeremiah was commissioned to do to PLANT AND TO BUILD! To plant and re-build among the House of Israel, lo, these many days without a king among LOST Israel, now supposing herself to be GENTILE! Therefore the identity and location of the re-planting must remain hidden until this Time of the END in which we live today!
JUDAH Taken Captive to Babylon
If you will carefully re-read the important Book of Jeremiah, you will notice the first few chapters are devoted to his ministry in WARNING the Jews of their impending invasion and captivity unless they would repent. But they would not repent. And so, finally, the invasion came. The first siege was in 604 B. C. On the exact date corresponding to December 9th, (as calculated by the Roman calendar) Nebuchadnezzar marched into Jerusalem, taking it captive. However, he did not at once drive out all the Jews. He did not even drive out their king, Jehoiakim, but made him a vassal king, the servant of Nebuchadnezzar. As such he continued on his throne, as did two more kings after him, Jehoiachin, his son, and Zedekiah, his brother, until the year 585 B. C. (Read II Kings 24). In that year, Zedekiah's 11th year as king, the Caldean armies again besieged Jerusalem, entered it, the city was broken up, the palace and temple destroyed. ALL the sons of King Zedekiah were killed before his eyes. That there would be no man to carry on his dynasty, all the princes of Judah were killed. King Zedekiah's eyes were put out, and he was bound in chains and carried to Babylon where he died. You will read of all this captivity in II Kings 25, II Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 39, and 52.
Jeremiah's Mysterious Movements
And now the first part of Jeremiah's strange commission is accomplished! So far as the world could see, or has seen since, the dynasty of David had ENDED! No king remained on the throne. Judah's last king was dead. All his sons were dead. All other princes, who might be possible heirs to carry on the dynasty, had been killed. No possible heir to the throne, so the world then believed, remained alive. But how about the SECOND part of Jeremiah's great commission? Was God able to keep His covenant with David? Was He able to PLANT, and REBUILD that throne? Jeremiah was among these captive Jews. Yet he must remain free to carry out the second part of his mission. So, "the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him... behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good to thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear; behold all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go...So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward (expense money) and let him go." (Jer. 40:1-5). Jeremiah was left FREE, to perform the second half of his commission. Where did he go? We come now to an amazing, fascinating, thrilling part of the Book of Jeremiah which has been almost entirely overlooked. "Then went Jeremiah unto Gedeliah to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land." (6th verse.) Now this Gedeliah had been made governor over a remnant of Jews in the land by the king of Babylon, and since Jerusalem was destroyed, had made Mizpah his headquarters. But the king of Ammon plotted with a Jew named Ishmael to assassinate Gedeliah. The plot was executed, the governor, and part of the Jews, were slain. Jeremiah was among the survivors. "Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king's daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard (f rom Babylon) had committed to Gedeliah... and carried them away captive, and departed to go over to Ammonites." (Jer. 41:10). Ah! Did you catch it? Read that passage again. Among these Jews were the king's daughters! Daughters of Zedekiah, King of Judah and of David's dynasty! King Zedekiah had died. All his sons had been killed. All the princes of Judah had been killed. All possible heirs to David's throne had been killed except the kings' daughters! Now we see why Jeremiah went to Mizpah!
Jeremiah, with Royal Seed for Replanting, Escapes
Soon a man named Johanan replaced Ishmael as leader. And in fear of reprisals from Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army, they appealed to the prophet, "and said unto Jerimiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God... that the lord thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk." (Jer. 42:2-3). The word of the lord came to Jeremiah, and He told them not to fear, that He would protect and deliver them. But the people wanted to flee to Egypt. This the Lord warned them not to do. If they did the sword of Nebuchadnezzar which they feared would overtake them there, and they would die. (Jer. 42:7-16). But, as people usually do, they rejected God's warning. "Thou speakest falsely," Johanan answered Jeremiah. (Jer. 43:2-3). And so Johanan "took all the remnant of Judah... even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters.... and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch, the son of Neriah (Jeremiah's scribe, or secretary). So they came into the land of Egypt." (Jer. 43:5-7). Baruch was Jeremiah's constant companion and secretary. It is important to note here God's promise of protection to him: "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto thee 0 Baruch... Behold, that which I have built I will break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land... but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey an all places whither thou goest." (Jer. 45:2-5). His life, like Jeremiah's, was under divine protection! On reaching Egypt, God warned these Jews again through Jeremiah that they should die there by the sword and famine, and "none shall return but such as shall escape!" (Jer. 44:12-14). Yes, a few in this company are under divine protection. A divine mission is to be performed. They shall ESCAPE! The Lord continues: "Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah." (Jer. 44:28). Jeremiah, Baruch, and the royal seed for replanting and rebuilding David's throne, all under divine protection, were to escape, and return to the land of Judah! Then Jeremiah and his company were to journey to a strange land which they knew not (Jer. 15:11-14). Now let Isaiah complete this prophecy: "For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. And the remnant that escaped of the house of Judah shall AGAIN TAKE ROOT DOWNWARD, AND BEAR FRUIT UPWARD." (Isa. 37:32, 31). This remnant with Jeremiah at least one of the king's daughters shall take root downward! That is, BE RE-PLANTED! And then bear fruit upward! Be BUILDED! Has God failed in His solemn covenant to keep alive David's throne? Where was this planting and building? Can we find it in God's Word? We can! The place, and the people among whom the throne was re-established, are clearly identified!