This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.
This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke, and fasten it on your neck with leather straps. Then send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who have come to see King Zedekiah in Jerusalem. Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose. Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control. All the nations will serve him, his son, and his grandson until his time is up. Then many nations and great kings will conquer and rule over Babylon. So you must submit to Babylon’s king and serve him; put your neck under Babylon’s yoke! I will punish any nation that refuses to be his slave, says the Lord. I will send war, famine, and disease upon that nation until Babylon has conquered it.
“‘Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, “The king of Babylon will not conquer you.”’”
The year was 593 b.c., and Nebuchadnezzar had already invaded Judah once and had taken many captives. Jeremiah wore a yoke—a wooden frame used to fasten a team of animals to a plow—as a symbol of bondage. This was an object lesson, telling the people they must put themselves under Babylon’s yoke or be destroyed. Not an easy message to hear.
God punished the people of Judah in an unusual way, by appointing a foreign ruler to be his “servant” (27:6). Nebuchadnezzar was not employed to proclaim God’s message, but to fulfill God’s promise of judgment on sin. Because God is in control of all events, he uses whomever he wants.
God may use unlikely people or circumstances to correct you. Submitting to discipline isn’t easy. Ask God for the humility and desire to accept his discipline, even if it comes from unexpected sources.