The Scriptorium

Yokes for the Nations

Courtesy of the sovereign God. Jeremiah 27.1-11

Yokes All Around (3)

Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Sing Psalm 115.1-3.

(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus )
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, "Where is their God on high?"
You rule us, Lord, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 27.1-11.

1. What did the yokes symbolize? Who was to receive them?

2. What did God promise for those who submitted to the king of Babylon?

Jeremiah here recalled an incident from earlier in his ministry, in the first year of King Jehoiakim’s reign. He used this part of his ministry for what he wanted to say to King Zedekiah (vv. 3, 12 ff; apparently, such messengers were still coming and going in Zedekiah’s day). His gesture and message remind us that God is sovereign, and He rules over all the nations of the earth.

Here is yet another example of using “props” to support a message. Previously we have seen Jeremiah use a potter’s vessel, a flask, and figs to bolster his preaching. Here, under God’s instruction, he turned to yokes. The Lord instructed him to make “bonds and yokes” such as would be used to employ animals for plowing or threshing. These were to be distributed to the surrounding nations via the various messengers from those nations who came and went from Jerusalem (vv. 1-4). The messengers were to give the yokes to the rulers of the nations and to convey Jeremiah’s message, that they should come willingly under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, or they would be utterly broken by him.

False prophets in all those nations were counseling calm and promising peace (vv. 9, 10), but Jeremiah warned the rulers not to listen to them. God is sovereign over the lands He entrusted to these various rulers and peoples (vv. 5, 6), and He was telling them the way things were going to be. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant (cf. Rom. 13.1-4) to bring judgment against these nations. But he himself would only rule – and his successors after him – as long as it pleased the Lord.

God is Creator and Sovereign over the affairs of men and nations. That is as true today as it was in Jeremiah’s day. He sets kings and rulers up, and He sets them down as He pleases, and all for the purpose of advancing the one Kingdom that ultimately matters – that of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must give ourselves to seeking this Kingdom as the defining priority of every aspect of our lives (Matt. 6.33).

1. How do we know that God is still sovereign over the nations of the world?

2. How did the yokes reinforce Jeremiah’s message?

3. What does it mean to seek first the Kingdom and righteousness of God?

For Jeremiah also prophesied that the Lord commanded them to go into Babylon. He reproved as false prophets any of the other prophets who told the people not to go to Babylon. Let those who read the Scriptures remember this as we do. Let those who do not, give us credit. Jeremiah, then, on the part of God, threatened those who would not go to Babylon, whereas he promised rest to those who would go and even a kind of contentment in the cultivation of their vines, and planting of their gardens and the abundance of their fruits. Augustine (354-430), Sermon 1[51].14

Keep me in the yoke with You, Jesus, that I may…

Pray Psalm 115.4-18.

Praise God for His blessings. Call on Him to bring His Kingdom to earth as in heaven, and to bring a great revival and awakening that will last for generations.

Sing Psalm 115.4-18.
Psalm 115.4-18 (Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Idols made by men's own hand – ever to Your Name be glory –
see nor hear nor understand – ever to Your Name be glory!
They neither feel nor walk, nor can they speak or talk;
all those who serve them fall, but unto Your Name be glory!

All who trust in Jesus yield – ever to His Name be glory! –
find in Him their help and shield – ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the Lord!  He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Blessings from our gracious Lord – ever to Your Name be glory –
will attend us evermore – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, Lord, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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