GOD GUARANTEES THE FUTURE RESTORATION OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MESSIAH
Since we know who holds the future, we can have confidence in God’s end times prophecies. Especially comforting are the words from Jeremiah 33 at the conclusion of the short four-chapter Book of Consolation that guarantee the future restoration of both the people and the leadership of the nation of Israel. Things certainly looked bleak for the faithful but much maligned prophet Jeremiah as he languished in confinement in the capital city of Jerusalem. His words of imminent defeat at the hands of the Chaldeans had been brushed aside by false prophets and deceived rulers who were trying to mount a defense against an enemy that God was backing.
But Jeremiah was not left in the dark about God’s overall redemptive agenda. The covenant-keeping Creator and Lord over all pledged His faithfulness to the promises made earlier to the patriarchs, to the priestly dynasty and to King David and his family. Despite shocking and persistent rebellion and idolatry, God’s chosen people were not being cast aside forever or even replaced by some spiritual substitute – e.g. the New Testament church believers as the amillennial camp proposes.
Instead God wants us to see that nothing is too difficult for Him and we can trust Him supremely even when our circumstances would say otherwise. The same God who was powerful to consign Israel and Judah to captivity will prove Himself powerful to complete the restoration of both northern and southern kingdoms in the end times under the leadership of the Messiah – the perfect prophet/priest/king. Leadership is important as this passage makes clear.
Some guarantees lack credibility. But the power and trustworthiness of God Himself stands behind the bold promises made here to His undeserving people.
GOD GUARANTEES THE FUTURE RESTORATION OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MESSIAH
I. (:1-13) THE RESTORATION OF NATIONAL ISRAEL GUARANTEED
1. (:1) Second Prison Revelation
“Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the second time,
while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying,”
The setting links this chapter to the previous chapter – 2 prison revelations;
We might find ourselves confined … but God can intervene and bring His Word to bear in any circumstances. What an encouragement it must have been for Jeremiah to hear from God at this difficult time.
2 (:2) Sovereignty Undergirds Confidence in Divine Revelation
“Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name,”
Words used link back to the Creation account in Genesis 1; cf. 32:17
Mackay: this divine description is introduced here to undergird the completeness with which Jeremiah may put his trust in the Lord who wields such power and control. . . The phrase “the Lord is his name”, is a similar to 31:35. It is only with a confident grasp of the true identity of the one who speaks that there will be genuine reliance on the announcements he makes.
3. (:3) Special Insight Dispensed as the Situation Dictates
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Look at the privilege and access we have to request understanding and insight in times of confusion and doubt. Unless God chooses to reveal His plans, we cannot figure them out on our own. But God delights to reveal many “great and mighty things” to his children. How diligently are we pursuing such insight? How valuable do we esteem God’s Word?
Thompson: The context indicates that the inaccessible things concern the future, which was beyond their understanding at that time, but when the day came they would understand (cf. 30:24, etc.).
Mackay: Such grand vistas of the future will sustain the prophet and the people in the traumatic days that lie ahead.
Constable: The Hebrew word besuroth describes something made inaccessible by fortifying or enclosing it, such as a city (cf. Numbers 13:28; Deuteronomy 3:5; Deuteronomy 28:52; Ezekiel 21:20). The Lord’s plans for Israel were inaccessible to most people, but He would unlock some of these secrets and share them with Jeremiah in answer to the prophet’s prayer. We must ask the Lord for some things before He will give them to us (cf. Matthew 7:7; James 4:2).
A. (:4-9) Restored Welfare and Reputation Based on Cleansing from Sin and Forgiveness – Peace and Truth – Before and After Pictures
1. (:4-5) Before Picture — Defeat
a. (:4) Backdrop of Enemy Invasion
“For thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which are broken down to make a defense against the siege ramps and against the sword,”
Longman: The siege of Jerusalem has required that its inhabitants dismantle houses, even the palace, in order to provide defenses against the attacking Babylonians, who have raised siege ramps to storm the walls. But these drastic defensive measures will not prevail. God’s anger over his people’s sins and his judgment of them will render their attempts to defend themselves futile. Instead, dead bodies will fill up these defensive structures.
Parunak: In the face of the siege, the people have destroyed their houses for two purposes.
1) As part of the battle against the Chaldeans. Isa. 22:10 shows that this strategy was used 120 years earlier against the Assyrians: “The houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.” Perhaps also to have something to drop on the heads of the attackers.
2) To provide burial space. Because of the siege, they can no longer take people outside of the city to bury them.
b. (:5) Backdrop of Divine Wrath and Rejection
“While they are coming to fight with the Chaldeans and to fill them with the corpses of men whom I have slain in My anger and in My wrath, and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness:”
2. (:6-9) After Picture — Triumph
a. (:6a) Healing
“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them;”
b. (:6b) Peace and Truth
“and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.”
c. (:7) Prosperity
“I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first.”
d. (:8) Cleansing and Forgiveness
“I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me.”
Look at all the different words for sin here
Mackay: But it is not just restored economic and social well-being that is promised. The fundamental aspect of the restored land is that it is the location where there will be experienced spiritual renewal from the Lord.
Guzik – quoting Morgan: “Cleansing removes guilt, pollution, defilement, morally. Pardon brings the offender back into relationship of favour and fellowship. God never pardons polluted souls; He first cleanses them. Pardon, apart from the communication of purity, would perpetuate pollution, and so violate the moral order beyond remedy.”
e. (:9) Good Reputation
“It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.”
B. (:10-11) Restored Worship and Rejoicing – Priorities and Thanksgiving
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, It is a waste, without man and without beast, that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say,
Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,
For the LORD is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting
and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the LORD. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,’ says the LORD.”
1) 10, First he reminds them of the prospects for the city, humanly speaking: a ghost town, without people or animals, doors falling off their hinges, no human activity at all.
2) 11a, Then he calls up the vision of a bustling city, with the sounds of many different activities echoing back and forth.
C. (:12-13) Restored Wasteland and Resources – Prosperity and Tranquility
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘There will again be in this place which is waste, without man or beast, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds who rest their flocks. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the Negev, in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them,’ says the LORD.”
Geographic touchpoints indicate that this restoration would not be limited to the city of Jerusalem but would extend throughout the land.
Constable: Judah would again become a quiet and secure place where shepherds pasture their flocks. This may refer to leaders of people, not just shepherds of sheep (cf. Jeremiah 23:1-3; Ezekiel 34:1-6; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:1-18).
Parunak: Yet even physical prosperity is not the greatest blessing. The Lord reserves that for last: the nation finally enjoys the rule of its Messiah. [next paragraph]
II. (:14-26) THE RESTORATION OF THE LEADERSHIP GUARANTEED – COVENANTAL LINES OF KINGSHIP AND PRIESTHOOD FULFILLED IN THE MESSIAH
These verses (:14-26) are not found in the LXX.
A. (:14-18) Ultimate Fulfillment of the Promises Regarding Leadership
1. (:14) Days for Fulfillment are Coming
“’Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah.’”
2. (:15) Righteous Branch of David Executing Justice and Righteousness
“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.”
Parunak: “Righteous branch” means “legitimate scion,” cf. 30:21, “a governor from the midst of them,” not someone in violation of Deut. 17:15. In connection with David, the “branch” language also recalls Isa. 11:1. His function is to execute judgment and righteousness.
Guzik – quoting Harrison: Jeremiah does not reveal as much about the coming Messiah as Isaiah does, but nevertheless provides glimpses of Christ as the Fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13), the good Shepherd (Jeremiah 23:4; 31:10), the righteous Branch (Jeremiah 23:5), the Redeemer (Jeremiah 50:34), the Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6) and David the king (Jeremiah 30:9)
3. (:16) Salvation and Security of the Nation
“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: ‘the LORD is our righteousness.’”
Thompson: The inference is that Jerusalem would so manifest the qualities of justice and righteousness (in contrast to her past bad record) that she would be worthy of such a name and exemplify the divine order for all the cities and all the people in Israel.
4. (:17-18) Continuity of the Leadership
a. (:17) Continuity of the Davidic Kingly Line
“For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;’”
b. (:18) Continuity of the Levitical Priestly Line
“and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.”
Parunak: As with the promise to Abraham, not all offspring inherit it [the priesthood] equally. Aaron had four sons.
1) Two, Nadab and Abihu, were destroyed before the Lord in Lev. 10 when they offered unholy fire.
2) The youngest, Ithamar, was the ancestor of Eli, whose family was cut off because of the sins of his sons.
3) The family of Eleazar, the third son, is the family of promise; Numb. 25:12,13 records how a covenant of everlasting priesthood was confirmed with his descendant Phinehas because of his zeal for the Lord.
4) The distinction between the two lines comes to ahead under David and Solomon. David had two high priests, Abiathar (from the house of Ithamar) and Zadok (from the house of Eleazar). When Adonijah, one of David’s sons, tried to succeed David in place of Solomon, Abiathar supported him, and Solomon deposed him from the high priesthood. From that time on the Zadokite line is the proper line for priesthood. It was restored after the captivity, but through politics the priesthood left it about 170 B.C., and it never returned. The high priests of our Lord’s time were not Zadokite.
Thompson: The need for a “legitimate” priesthood was as serious as was the need for a “legitimate” ruler.
Longman: The impact of this promise of the continuation and flourishing of the kingship and the priesthood must be understood on the background of the horrible failure of these institutions in the period before the exile.
Parunak: For many, this notion of future sacrifices in the messianic kingdom is a stumbling block. Yet it’s clearly taught, not only here, but also in Ezek. 43:18-27; 44:15-31, where Zadokite priests offer burnt, sin, peace, meal, and trespass offerings. Important insight: the sacrifices in themselves never actually forgave sin. They were only symbolic, and there’s no reason that their symbolism can’t point backwards as well as forwards.
B. (:19-22) Reliability and Magnitude of the Promises Regarding Leadership
“The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,”
1. (:20-21) Reliability — Based on Recurring Order Established in Nature
“Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers.’”
2. (:22) Magnitude — Based on Correlation to Innumerable Stars and Sand
“As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”
Feinberg: Monarchy and priesthood were the two bases of the OT theocracy. When these appeared to be most in danger of extinction in Jeremiah’s day, we find their continuance couched in sure and irrevocable terms.
C. (:23-26) Certainty of Fulfillment of the Promises Regarding Leadership
“And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,”
1. (:24) Certainty Attacked – No Permanent Rejection
“Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD chose, He has rejected them’? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight.”
2. (:25-26a) Certainty Attested – Patterns of Nature Bear Witness
“Thus says the LORD, ‘If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’”
Parunak: It’s important for us to believe what God has revealed concerning the future history of the nation Israel. It’s even more important that we recognize that this same God has bound himself in covenant to us. We should be assured and comforted by this display of his faithfulness to Israel, because he is just as faithful to us.
Guzik: Over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: God spoke regarding the genetic descendants of Israel, not only spiritual descendants. Again, the new covenant reaches out to the whole world, not only to Israel; but it does not ignore or set aside Israel.
“This passage has been a crux interpretum for expositors. It is especially difficult for those who hold an amillennial position in eschatology. The only resort for them is in allegorization of the text or the use of a dual hermeneutic.” (Feinberg)
3. (:26b) Certainty Affirmed – Prosperity Guaranteed
“But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”
Mackay: The Lord will act to reverse the judgment he is rightfully imposing on his people. His grace and commitment will ensure that they will be kept as the people of God. His power is capable of reversing the most hopeless of situations, and the commitment he has given ensures that this will occur.