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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 15–23
Verses 15–23

Jeremiah, having given great encouragement to those among the captives whom he knew to be serious and well-affected, assuring them that God had very kind and favourable intentions concerning them, here turns to those among them who slighted the counsels and comforts that Jeremiah ministered to them and depended upon what the false prophets flattered them with. When this letter came from Jeremiah they would be ready to say, “Why should he make himself so busy, and take upon him to advise us? The Lord has raised us up prophets in Babylon, Jer. 29:15. We are satisfied with those prophets, and can depend upon them, and have no occasion to hear from any prophets in Jerusalem.” See the impudent wickedness of this people; as the prophets, when they prophesied lies, said that they had them from God, so the people, when they invited those prophets thus to flatter them, fathered it upon God, and said that it was the Lord that raised them up those prophets. Whereas we may be sure that those who harden people in their sins, and deceive them with false and groundless hopes of God’s mercy, are no prophets of God’s raising up. These prophets of their own told them that no more should be carried captive, but that those who were in captivity should shortly return. Now, in answer to this, 1. The prophet here foretells the utter destruction of those who remained still at Jerusalem, notwithstanding what those false prophets said to the contrary: “As for the king and people that dwell in the city, who, you think, will be ready to bid you welcome when you return, you are deceived; they shall be followed with one judgment after another, sword, famine, and pestilence, which shall cut off multitudes; and the poor and miserable remains shall be removed into all kingdoms of the earth,” Jer. 29:16, 18. And thus God will make them, or rather deal with them accordingly, as the salt that has lost its savour, which, being good for nothing, is cast to the dunghill, and so are rotten figs. This refers to the vision and the prophecy upon it which we had Jer. 24:1-10 And the reason given for these proceedings against them is the same that has often been given and will justify God in the eternal ruin of impenitent sinners (Jer. 29:19): Because they have not hearkened to my words. I called, but they refused. 2. He foretells the judgment of God upon the false prophets in Babylon, who deceived the people of God there. He calls upon all the children of the captivity, who boasted of them as prophets of God’s raising up (Jer. 29:20): “Stand still, and hear the doom of the prophets you are so fond of.” The two prophets are named here, Ahab and Zedekiah, Jer. 29:21. Observe, (1.) The crimes charged upon them—impiety and immorality: They prophesied lies in God’s name (Jer. 29:21), and again (Jer. 29:23), They have spoken lying words in my name. Lying was bad, lying to the people of God to delude them in 43d9 to a false hope was worse, but fathering their lies upon the God of truth was worst of all. And no marvel if those that had the face to do that could allow themselves in the gratification of those vile affections to which God, in a way of righteous judgment, gave them up. They have done villainy in Israel, for they have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives. Adultery is villainy in Israel, and in such as pretend to be prophets, who by such wickednesses manifestly disprove their own pretensions. God never sent such profligate wretches on his errands. He is the Lord God of the holy prophets, not of such impure ones. Here it appears why they flattered others in their sins—because they could not reprove them without condemning themselves. These lewd practices of theirs they knew how to conceal from the eye of the world, that they might preserve their credit; but I know it and am a witness, saith the Lord. The most secret sins are known to God; he can see the villainy that is covered with the thickest cloak of hypocrisy, and there is a day coming when he will bring to light all these hidden works of darkness and every man will appear in his own colours. (2.) The judgments threatened against them: The king of Babylon shall slay them before your eyes; nay, he shall put them to a miserable death, roast them in the fire, Jer. 29:22. We may suppose that it was not for their impiety and immorality that Nebuchadnezzar punished them thus severely, but for sedition, and some attempts of their turbulent spirits upon the public peace, and stirring up the people to revolt and rebel. So much of their wickedness shall then be detected, and in such a wretched manner they shall end their days, that their names shall be a curse among the captives in Babylon, Jer. 29:22. When men would imprecate the greatest evil upon one they hated they would think they could not load them with a heavier curse, in fewer words, than to say, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab. Thus were they made ashamed of the prophets they had been proud of, and convinced at last of their folly in hearkening to them. God’s faithful prophets were sometimes charged with being the troublers of the land, and as such were tortured and slain; but their names were a blessing when they were gone and their memory sweet, not as these false prophets. As malefactors are attended with infamy and disgrace, so martyrs with glory and honour.