CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 29.
Now that the people know (again) that Jeremiah is a true prophet, and that it was only the false prophets saying that Judah would be restored in two years, Jeremiah begins to clarify what is the truth about their captivity. He sent a letter by messenger (verse 3) to all the elders and leaders and priests and people who had been carried away from Jerusalem to Babylong (verse 1) and to those who later left Judah, either to escape or submit willingly (verse 2). He reminded all the people that they have been carried away captive in Babylon due to their own consequences they themselves had chosen (verse 4). He told them they would be in captivity long enough to build houses and plant gardens (verse 5), and even for their children to grow up and be married (verse 6). This would be many years, he said, but they should still pray for peace and hope for restoration, and doing so would help them return to the Lord and so also be restored (verse 7).
Jeremiah confronted the people again for believing in false prophets, telling them not to be deceived by them (verse 8) because they are not sent by the Lord (verse 9). The false prophets have said captivity would only be a short time and not to worry about it, but the Lord has declared that they would be in bondage for 70 years (verse 10).
The Lord is tender then, telling the people that it is true they have chosen these consequences, but that the purpose is only to turn their hearts back to them – not to destroy them. He urges them to return to Him, that He may restore them to happiness again (verse 11):
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith the Lord,
thoughts of peace,
and not of evil,
to give you an expected end.
That expected end is being a blessed and chosen people who receive their full temporal and spiritual inheritance. But He can only do this for them if they will call on Him in prayer (verse 12), seek Him out through obedience and consecration (verse 13), and being delivered by Him according to His plan (verse 13). He promised if they would turn to Him, He could get them out of captivity and restore them to their own land (verse 14).
The people have to hear Him, and do what He says to make it happen. He knows more than they do, and can see what they cannot. This is why He uses prophets, to guide the people as a group, even while the Spirit can speak to them as individuals (verse 15).
But those who have been false priests, and unrighteous kings, and have led the people away from the Lord will suffer even greater things that only captivity (verse 16), even famine and pestilence and more war (verse 17), until they are removed and all the political kingdoms around know that the Lord has won (verse 18). This will be the consequence for those who will not listen to the true prophets, and instead lead the people away from the Lord (verse 19).
The Lord urges the people to instead listen to Jeremiah, a true prophet (verse 20), and says that the false prophets will fail in message and even lose their lives because of leading the people astray (verse 21). In contrast, Jeremiah – the true prophet – would be given his life as a sign to the people, a token that he was a true prophet. But the false prophets will be cursed (verse 22) because of the priestcraft, adultery, and lying to the people (verse 23).
The Lord then tells Jeremiah to write specifically to Shemaiah (verse 24), who had done evil by sending out false prophesies (verse 25) and commanding true prophets to be hunted and imprisoned (verse 26). He asks the false Shemaiah what Jeremiah had ever done wrong to him (verse 27) to cause him legal problems and put him in danger. Jeremiah had not spoken against the king or the people, other than explaining why they were in captivity and how long it would last (verse 28). This letter was read to him in front of Jeremiah in person (verse 29).
Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah again (verse 30), telling him to write to all the people about Shemaiah and warn them that he is lying (verse 31). The Lord declares that Shemaiah will be punished for his evil, and that because he led the people astray he would not live long enough to see them restored (verse 32).