Jeremiah’s Strange Commission

What happened to God’s unconditional promise to David?
Jeremiah the prophet was thrown into a muddy pit before being rescued by Ebed-melech.
Brooke Davis, Julia Goddard/Watch Jerusalem
From the August 2020 Watch Jerusalem Print Edition

King Zedekiah was captured during King Nebuchadnezzar’s final siege on Jerusalem in 586 b.c.e. After being forced to watch as his sons were killed, Zedekiah’s eyes were gouged out and then he was imprisoned in Babylon.

But what about God’s promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7? God clearly promised David that he would always have a descendant ruling on the throne. “And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever” (verse 16). In Jeremiah 33:20-21, God again says this covenant with King David is unbreakable.

How can you explain this? When Zedekiah and his sons were killed, David’s throne appears to end. But God does not lie. Notice Psalm 89, which is about the Davidic promise: “Once have I sworn by My holiness: Surely I will not be false unto David; His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever …” (verses 36-38). The throne of David must have continued. But how? Where?

The late educator Herbert W. Armstrong explained this towering mystery and fascinating truth in the following excerpt from his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

God raised up a very special prophet whose real call and commission few indeed understand. This prophet was Jeremiah. Jeremiah played a strange and little realized role in this captivity…. This vital yet little-known call and commission is described in the opening verses of the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah. …

“See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to overthrow; to build, and to plant” (verses 9-10). …

Jeremiah was used of God as a prophet to warn the nation Judah of their transgressions against God’s government and ways. He was sent to warn this rebellious nation of impending punishment—their invasion and captivity at the hands of the Chaldean armed forces—unless they acknowledged their guilt and changed their ways. He was used as a go-between—an intermediary—between the kings of Judah and Babylon.

It is well known that Jeremiah was used in warning Judah of the impending captivity, and the “pulling down” or “overthrowing” of the throne of David in the kingdom of Judah. …

But note it! See it in your own Bible! Jeremiah was divinely commissioned to pull down and to overthrow that very throne of David in Judah—but notice the second half of the commission. To build and to plant! To build and to plant what?

Why, naturally, that which he was used in “rooting out” of Judah—the throne of David which God swore He would preserve forever! …

So far as the world knows, the last king to sit on that throne of David was Zedekiah of Judah. … What happened to that throne? … We know Jeremiah did not plant and rebuild it in Babylon. God had promised that David’s throne should rule over Israelites through all generations—not over Gentiles. …

David’s throne was never again planted or built among the Jews!… But that throne was divinely commissioned to be planted and rebuilt by the Prophet Jeremiah—during his lifetime! Jeremiah was set over both Judah and Israel. To be used in rooting out David’s throne in Judah. But more! To plant and to build, then, of necessity, among the house of Israel … among lost Israel, now supposing herself to be Gentile! Therefore the identity and location of the replanting must remain hidden to the world until this time of the end in which we live. …

Where Did Jeremiah Go?

Jeremiah was among these captive Jews. He must be free to carry out the second part of his commission.

So, “Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying: ‘Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.’” (Jeremiah 39:11-12). “So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance and a present, and let him go” (Jeremiah 40:2-5).

So Jeremiah was left absolutely free to do as he pleased, supplied even with expense money, and given complete freedom, so that he might perform the second half of his mission. 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 Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land” (verse 6).

Now this Gedaliah had been made governor over a remnant of Jews in the land by the king of Babylon, and since Jerusalem was destroyed, he had made Mizpah his headquarters. But the king of Ammon plotted with a Jew named Ishmael to assassinate Gedaliah. 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 had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the children of Ammon” (Jeremiah 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 in prison in Babylon (Jeremiah 52:11). All his sons had been killed. All the nobles of Judah had been killed. All possible heirs of Zedekiah to David’s throne had been killed—except the king’s daughters! Now we see why Jeremiah chose to go to Mizpah!

Jeremiah Escapes

Soon a man named Johanan replaced Ishmael as leader. And in fear of reprisals from Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army, Johanan and the captains appealed to the prophet, “and said unto Jeremiah the prophet: ‘Let, we pray thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, … that the Lord thy God may tell us the way wherein we should walk…” (Jeremiah 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. …

But, as people usually do, they rejected God’s warning. …

And so Johanan “took all the remnant of Judah … the men, and the women, and the children, and the king’s daughters … and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah [Jeremiah’s scribe, or secretary]. And they came into the land of Egypt …” (Jeremiah 43:5-7)

[The entourage came into Egypt, and took up residence at Tahpanhes (Jeremiah 43-44). This is a well-known ancient Egyptian city. The Arabs called it Qasr Bint al-Yahudi—the “Castle of the Jew’s Daughter.” Artifacts discovered at the site have been dated around the first part of the sixth century b.c.e.—the very time that Jeremiah, Baruch and Zedekiah’s daughters were present! More on this city further down.]

On reaching Egypt, God warned these Jews again through Jeremiah that they would die there by the sword and famine, and “none shall return save such as shall escape! (Jeremiah 44:12-14). Yes, a few in this company were under divine protection! … “And they that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, few in number…” (verse 28).

Under Divine Protection

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, O Baruch …. Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, And this in the whole land. … [B]ut thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” (Jeremiah 45:2-5). Baruch’s life, like Jeremiah’s, was under divine protection!

Now previously the Eternal had said to Jeremiah, “Verily it shall be well with thy Remnant.” The only “remnant” left for Jeremiah’s mission of transplanting the throne was the king’s daughters. “Verily,” continued the Eternal, same verse, “I will cause the enemy to make supplication unto thee in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.” (Jeremiah 15:11). …

So, Jeremiah and his little royal remnant are to escape out of Egypt, return to Judah, and then—where? To the place where the “lost 10 tribes” had gone, as we shall see!

Now let Isaiah complete this prophecy: “For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of mount Zion they that shall escape; the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isaiah 37:32, 31). …

This remnant with Jeremiah—at least one of the king’s daughters—shall take root downward! That is, be replanted!

And then bear fruit upward! Be built! …

A ‘Riddle’ and a ‘Parable’ Tell!

The strange truth of the planting and the rebuilding of David’s throne is revealed in “a riddle and a parable” couched in symbolic language never understood until this latter day. Yet it stands today so clearly explained a little child could understand!

It fills the 17th chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The whole chapter should be carefully read. Notice, first, this prophetic message is addressed, not to Judah, the Jews, but to the house of Israel. It is a message to give light to the lost 10-tribed house of Israel in these latter days!

First, Ezekiel is told to speak a riddle, and then a parable. The riddle is found in verses 3 to 10. Then, beginning in verse 11, the Eternal explains its meaning. “Say now to the rebellious house: Know ye not what these things mean? tell them…” and then the riddle is clearly explained.

A great eagle came to Lebanon and took the highest branch of the cedar. This is explained to represent King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who came to Jerusalem and took captive the king of Judah. The cropping off of the cedar’s young twigs and carrying them to a land of traffic is explained to picture the captivity of the king’s sons. “He took also of the seed of the land” means Nebuchadnezzar took also of the people, and the mighty of the land of Judah. He “set it as a willow tree. And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature” means the Jews were given a covenant whereby, although they were ruled over by the Chaldeans, they might live in peace and grow. The other “great eagle” is explained to represent Pharaoh of Egypt.

Thus the riddle covers the first half of Jeremiah’s commission. Now notice what is revealed concerning the second part—the planting of David’s throne! It comes in the parable, verses 22-24: “Thus saith the Lord GOD: Moreover I will take, even I, of the lofty top of the cedar….” From God’s own explanation we have learned that the cedar tree represents the nation of Judah; its highest branch is Judah’s king. The riddle told us Nebuchadnezzar took the highest branch—the king. The parable now tells us God—not Nebuchadnezzar, but God—will take of the highest branch. Not the branch, but of the branch—of Zedekiah’s children. But Nebuchadnezzar took, and killed, all his sons.

God, through His Prophet Jeremiah, is now going to take of this highest branch and “set it” (verse 22). “I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent;” continues the Almighty! Ah! A tender young twig! The twigs of this highest branch represent the children of King Zedekiah! Certainly a tender young twig, then, represents a daughter! “… And will plant it.” Could symbolic language say plainer this young Jewish princess is to become the royal seed for planting again of David’s throne? Where? “… upon an high mountain and eminent,” says the Eternal! A “mountain” in symbol always represents a nation.

But Which Nation?

“In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it…” answers the Eternal (verse 23). David’s throne now is to be planted in Israel, after being thrown down from Judah! Could language be plainer? …

We are ready now to search out the actual location of the lost tribes of the outcast house of Israel. … And when we find them, we shall find the throne of David!

Many passages of prophecy tell of these people in these latter days. Prophecies not to be understood until this “time of the end.” …

According to Hosea 12:1: “Ephraim … followeth after the east wind ….” An “east wind” travels west. Ephraim must have gone west from Assyria. When the Eternal swore to David that He would perpetuate his throne, He said: “I will set his hand [scepter] also in the sea …” (Psalm 89:25). The throne is to be “set,” planted, “in the sea.”

Through Jeremiah the Eternal said: “[B]acksliding Israel hath proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD…” (Jeremiah 3:11-12). … Of course, Israel was north of Judah while still in [the Holy Land]—but when these words were written by Jeremiah, Israel had been removed from [the land] more than 130 years and had long since migrated, with the Assyrians, north (and west) of Assyria’s original location. … So the location, we now find, is toward the north, also west, and in the sea. …

After saying, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?” the Eternal, speaking through Hosea, says: “[T]hen the children shall come trembling from the west” (Hosea 11:8, 10).

Again: “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth …” (Jeremiah 31:8). This prophecy is for consideration in the “end of days” (Jeremiah 30:24; 31:1), and is addressed to “Israel” (verses 2, 4, 9), to “Ephraim” (verses 6, 9), and “Samaria” (verse 5). Here is added another hint—“and the uttermost parts of the earth” (verse 8)— they have spread abroad widely by colonization.

Jeremiah was divinely commissioned to pull down and to overthrow that very throne of David in Judah—but notice the second half of the commission. To build and to plant!

Referring to the house of Israel, not Judah (Isaiah 49:3, 6), God says: “Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim.” (Isaiah 49:12). In the Hebrew, the language in which this was originally inspired, there is no word for “northwest,” but this term is designated by the phrase, “the north and the west.” It means, literally, the northwest! The Vulgate renders “Sinim” as “Australi,” or “Australia.” So we now have the location northwest of Jerusalem and even spreading around the world. …

The same 49th chapter of Isaiah begins with this: “Listen, O isles, unto me.” The people addressed, Israel, are called “O isles” in the first verse and “O Israel” in the third verse. This term “isles” or “island” is sometimes translated “coastlands.” …

In Jeremiah 31:10, the message is to be declared “in the isles afar off” and is to be shouted in “the head of the nations” (verse 7). So, finally, today, as in Jeremiah’s day, the house of Israel is in the isles, which are “in the sea,” the chief of the nations, northwest of Jerusalem. A coast-dwelling, and therefore sea-dominant, people. Certainly there can be no mistaking that identity!

Take a map of Europe. Lay a line due northwest of Jerusalem across the continent of Europe, until you come to the sea, and then to the islands in the sea! This line takes you directly to the British Isles! …

Ancient Annals of Ireland

Now briefly let us consider what is found in the ancient annals, legends and history of Ireland, and we shall have the scene of Jeremiah’s “planting” and the present location of “lost” Israel.

The real ancient history of Ireland is very extensive, though colored with some legend. But with the facts of biblical history and prophecy in mind, one can easily sift out the legend from the true history in studying ancient Irish annals. Throwing out that which is obviously legendary, we glean from various histories of Ireland the following: Long prior to 700 b.c.e. a strong colony called “Tuatha de Danann” (tribe of Dan) arrived in ships, drove out other tribes, and settled there. Later, in the days of David, a colony of the line of Zarah arrived in Ireland from the Near East.

Then, in 569 b.c.e. (date of Jeremiah’s transplanting), an elderly, white-haired patriarch, sometimes referred to as a “saint,” came to Ireland. With him was the princess daughter of an eastern king and a companion called “Simon Brach,” spelled in different histories as Breck, Berech, Brach or Berach. The princess had a Hebrew name, Tephi—a pet name—her full name being Tea-Tephi….

This royal party included the son of the king of Ireland who had been in Jerusalem at the time of the siege. There he had become acquainted with Tea-Tephi. He married her shortly after 585—when the city fell. Their young son, now about 12 years of age, accompanied them to Ireland. Besides the royal family, Jeremiah brought with them some remarkable things, including a harp, an ark, and a wonderful stone called “lia-fail,” or “stone of destiny.” A peculiar coincidence (?) is that Hebrew reads from right to left, while English reads from left to right. Read this name either way—and it still is “lia-fail.”

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Another strange coincidence—or is it just coincidence?—is that many kings in the history of Ireland, Scotland and England have been coronated sitting over this stone—including the present queen. The stone rests today in Westminster Abbey in London, and the coronation chair is built over and around it. A sign beside it labels it “Jacob’s pillar-stone” (Genesis 28:18). [Since writing, the sign has been removed and the stone itself returned to Scotland.] …

Another interesting fact is that the crown worn by the kings of … ancient Ireland had 12 points!

The royal husband of the Hebrew princess Tea was given the title Herremon upon ascending the throne of his father. … The son of this … King Herremon and Hebrew princess continued on the throne of Ireland and this same dynasty continued unbroken through all the kings of Ireland; was overturned and transplanted again in Scotland; again overturned and moved to London, England, where this same dynasty continues today in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ii.