From Jeremiah 30-31
Israel and Judah are being punished by the LORD and taken captive by foreign nations. Their punishment is just but they cry out to the LORD for healing. In today’s passage the LORD promises to restore them and punish their enemies, but in the interim they still have to bear the consequences of their sins.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Jeremiah is given another word from God and he preaches to a people being punished by the LORD. His word is meant to give them hope.
30 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (Jer 30.1-3)
Jeremiah is commanded to write all these words in a ‘book’. Most likely a scroll. This will become the book of Jeremiah and scripture.
The LORD wants him to capture all his words down in writing so later generations can see his faithfulness to his word in restoring their fortunes and return them to the land.
What past promises in scripture have you seen fulfilled by the LORD?
But at the moment Israel and Judah are in a state of distress.
4 These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah:
5 “Thus says the LORD: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale?
7 Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.
8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.
9 But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jer 30.4-9)
The LORD acknowledges their distress, but says he will deliver them from it. They will be under anothers ‘yoke’ and in ‘bonds’, forced to serve other nations. But the LORD will free them.
The LORD will free them so they may serve him. Who do you serve?
10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.
11 For I am with you to save you, declares the LORD; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished. (Jer 30.10-12)
The LORD will ‘save them from far away’. Salvation in this case means freedom from captivity and slavery to other nations. Israel was meant to be free, serving the LORD alone in the promised land.
The LORD will save them and punish their captors. He will ‘make a full end’ of them. Wiping them out. Unlike these nations Israel will survive, but has to undergo a period of discipline and punishment.
Sometimes the LORD delivers earthly punishments to discipline his people. Dispensing justice and restoring his people.
12 “For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous.
13 There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you.
14 All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant.
15 Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you.
16 Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured, and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall be plundered, and all who prey on you I will make a prey.
17 For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’ (Jer 30.12-17)
The LORD describes the state Israel and Judah are in. They are hurting, wounded and nothing is given to heal them. He is alluding to their sinful state and the punishment they have recently endured for it.
Despite all this they are still the people of God and the LORD will repay those who have ‘devoured’ them. They have put God’s people into captivity. In return the LORD will put them into captivity. They will be plundered.
There LORD will eventually restore his people. There may not be any healing now. But after they have been sufficiently punished the LORD will heal them.
18 “Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt on its mound, and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
20 Their children shall be as they were of old, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all who oppress them.
21 Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? declares the LORD.
22 And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Jer 30.18-22)
The LORD promises to restore Jacob. He will have compassion on the and restore them to their former fortunes. They will again praise the LORD and the LORD will make them great. No more will a foreigner rule over them. Their ‘prince’ will be from among their own people.
The LORD promises to restore their relationship. They will be the LORD’s people and he will be their God.
But for now the LORD will execute his justice.
23 Behold the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this. (Jer 30.23-24)
‘The storm of the LORD’. Jeremiah repeats an earlier judgment on the wicked (Jer 23.19-20). The original passage suggests he is here condemning the people of Israel and Judah as well as the wicked in the nations around them. The punishment for all their sin is now upon them.
‘In the latter days you will understand this’. It will be painful for the people at this time and they wont understand fully why the LORD has punished them like this. But in ‘later’ days they will understand why the LORD did it. In the latter days as well the LORD will restore them.
“Judah would go through trying times of chastisement, but an era of blessing lay beyond. God promised that he would “restore the fortunes” (the same phrase translated “bring back from captivity” in 30:3) of Jacob’s tents. As evidence of his restored favor, Jerusalem would be rebuilt on its “ruins” on the hill where Solomon’s Temple had stood. The word “ruins” is from an Arabic cognate, ‘tell’, that means a mound or heap. A ‘tell’ is a mound where the ruins of a destroyed or abandoned city are found. The God of miraculous reversals promised to change the ruins of Jerusalem into a place of rejoicing.
In the time of restoration the palace would be rebuilt. Instead of sounds of wailing and lament that would be heard when Jerusalem was destroyed, the rebuilt city would resound with songs of thanksgiving and sounds of rejoicing. The population would increase. Respect for Israel as a nation now disdained would be restored. The verses are a description of a time of prosperity and prestige that had been enjoyed in the days of David and Solomon. The Lord would not permit anyone to oppress them; those who did would be punished (Zech 2:8).” (Huey, F.B., 1993. Jeremiah, Lamentations, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
The LORD promised restoration after a period of suffering and pain. The gospel is one such event where Israel’s punishment ended and the LORD send a saviour to restore her to the kingdom.
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ” (Isa 40.1-2)
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1.1-11)
The Isaiah 40.1-3 passage quoted in each of the gospels (Mt 3.1-11; Lk 3.2-16; Jn 1.23) signified the end of a long period of suffering, now ended with the coming of the Christ.
Our passage reminds us the LORD is serious about punishing sin and establishing justice. But he is also compassionate and eager to restore his people. The gospel is the time of restoration and healing and we have been included in this momentus event.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.