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ALL ISRAEL RESTORED UNDER MESSIAH
This and the following three chapters are called by some "The Book of Consolation"; but for our study, it is just as well to consider the chapters independently as they appear in the text. While true enough that there is indeed a concentration in these four chapters of many glorious prophecies for Israel, these glorious prophecies are by no means limited to these chapters. Jeremiah 29:10-14 (of the previous chapter) is but one example.
Cheyne mentioned that passages akin to these four chapters also "occur in earlier chapters of Jeremiah 3:14-19; 16:14,15, and Jeremiah 23:3-8."
There are three dates which are seriously proposed for these four chapters, the majority of current scholars seeming to prefer the tenth year of Zedekiah, near the end of the final siege of Jerusalem, circa 587 B.C., just before the collapse of the city. Still others find a date late in the exile and, "Suppose that they were written by someone other than Jeremiah; but such theories lean heavily upon critical reconstructions of Isaiah which are based entirely upon unwarranted and unproved conclusions." That type of "dating" Biblical books we reject as totally untrustworthy. A third date was proposed by Naegelsbach who dates the first two chapters here (Jeremiah 30 and Jeremiah 31), "as the oldest part of the whole Book of Jeremiah, along with Jeremiah 3-6." We suggest that no one knows for sure exactly when various chapters in this prophecy were written, unless the text indicates it; and again, we raise the question, "What difference does it make anyway?"
Our own preference of a date is that which places these chapters shortly before the final capture of Jerusalem. It seems very appropriate that, "When the siege was drawing to an end, famine and pestilence were ravaging the city, its capture more and more evident every day, with all hope of rescue past, and Jeremiah himself in prison - that in this sad pressure of earthly troubles, Jeremiah bade his countrymen look courageously to the fulfillment of the high hopes expressed in these chapters,"
These chapters speak of the perpetuity of Israel, the calling of the Gentiles, the amalgamation of Jew and Gentile alike under one New Covenant, the coming of Messiah, the Branch, the Son of David, the Mediator between God and man, Jehovah Our Righteousness, who as both Priest and King would bring a new age of prosperity to Israel. A comprehensive title for all four of these chapters, according to Smith, is "`The New Covenant,' the very name by which the Gospel is known in most languages, though we call it the New Testament."
"The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah, the God of Israel, saying Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. For, lo, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will turn again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith Jehovah; and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it."
"Write all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book ..." (Jeremiah 30:2). We can find no grounds whatever for agreement with the usual scholarly proposition that this commandment regarding the placing of Jeremiah's prophecies in a book applied only to this chapter and perhaps two or three other chapters additionally. Do those chapters include "all the words that God spoke to Jeremiah?" No matter what men say, the answer to that is negative.
What we have here is exactly the same commandment found again in Jeremiah 36:2, where God said to Jeremiah:
"In the fourth year of Jehoiachim ... the word came from Jehovah to Jeremiah, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day."
This passage, along with what is written here, indicates that all of Jeremiah's prophecies were carefully written down and preserved by him in a book. How else, do the scholars suppose we now possess his book, after so many centuries have fled away? The very existence of the book of Jeremiah in the sacred Hebrew Canon is the only proof needed that Jeremiah did what God commanded him to do. Of course, this glimpse of the truth plays havoc with all the speculative editors, redactors, and interpolators used in the imaginative guesses of Bible critics.
Keil mentioned a Dr. J. D. Michaelis who took the same view of these passages as the one taken here; and although Keil disagreed with him, he gave no reason whatever for doing so.
"The days are coming ..." (Jeremiah 30:3). "These words look toward eschatological times. Jeremiah is contemplating the distant, not the near, future of the nation; and these words strike the keynote for the entire group of four chapters beginning here."
Yes, there is a definite promise here of the return of Israel to "the land" which God gave to their fathers; but the real fulfillment of this came, not in the return of a few Jews to Jerusalem, but in the ingathering of Jews and Gentiles alike into the kingdom of heaven under the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
"I will turn again the captivity of my people ..." (Jeremiah 30:3). "This expression in the Bible is sometimes used where no captivity of any kind is in view (Job 42:10; Ezekiel 16:53)." In many passages, therefore, where this expression occurs, the meaning is, "I will reverse or restore the fortunes." It was the "captivity" of Israel in their sins that was the principal concern of the Lord, as indicated by Jesus' use of similar words in Luke 4:18.
"My people Israel and Judah ..." (Jeremiah 30:3). Thompson was impressed with the use of both these designations here and thought that, "It indicates that both the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel were included in God's plans for the future." However, the unification of "all Israel" in this passage has no reference whatever to the two "kingdoms." It is the New Israel which will accomplish the fulfillment of God's will in the future; and that Israel will not only include all of racial Israel, including both the northern tribes and the southern kingdom, but also the Gentiles as well.
"And these are the words that Jehovah spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith Jehovah: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child; wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it."
"Alas for that day ..." (Jeremiah 30:7). Payne Smith, and others have understood this day to be the day when the armies of the Medo-Persians approached Babylon to destroy it; but we cannot believe that was "the day of Jacob's trouble." That was evidently the day of Babylon's trouble!
"That day is great ... there is none like it ..." (Jeremiah 30:7) The unique day in view here, it appears to us, must be understood as the Judgment of the Great Day. See Amos 5:18f and the first two chapters of Zephaniah. The great day mentioned here is not the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, nor the day of the destruction of Babylon. "It is the Day of the Lord, a significant eschatological theme." Keil agreed with this, pointing out that the passage is an imitation of Joel 2:2. where that prophet, for the first time presents the idea of the great day of Judgment to come on all nations."
"And it shall come to pass in that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more make him thy bondman; but they shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith Jehovah; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith Jehovah, to save thee: for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and will in no wise leave thee unpunished."
"Yoke from off thy neck ..." (Jeremiah 30:8). "Only in the most preliminary way can this refer to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar on the neck of Jacob. What is meant is the liberation of God's people from all foreign oppressors; and that could be accomplished only by the glorious intervention of Israel's Messianic king." The remainder of this chapter is devoted to the further exploration of that theme.
Caesar was the name of a Roman emperor; but the name, in time, became a title for many subsequent emperors. Among the Jews, the same thing happened. David was the name of one of their kings; but, in time, it came to be the title of Messiah himself, "The Son of David" (Matthew 1:1). "It is very significant that in the prophetic scriptures the resurrection of David himself is never predicted as an antecedent to the rule of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the Davidic throne."
"They shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their king ..." (Jeremiah 30:9). Note the parallelism. David their king, Messiah, is indeed God come in the flesh. Serving Christ is serving God. Some have missed the point here. Henderson noted that, "The prophecy that the Jews would serve Messiah has hitherto had only a very partial fulfillment, yet the time is coming when they all shall adore him as their Saviour and their King." Such a comment overlooks the truth that "All Israel," that is, "All the true Israel" are already serving Messiah. To construe this prophecy as a notion that all racial Israel shall ever adore Christ is a gross mistake.
"Jacob my servant ..." (Jeremiah 30:10). Theme of Jacob, or Israel, as God's servant is more fully developed in Isaiah in the series of passages called "The Servant Songs." (Isaiah 41:8-14; 43:1-7; 44:1-2; 51:1f; Isaiah 53, etc.).
"Full end of all the nations ... not a full end of thee ..." (Jeremiah 30:11). Ammon, Moab, Edom, Assyria, etc. no longer exist; but the nation of Israel is still on earth. How do critics explain this without designating it a "predictive prophecy?"
"For thus saith Jehovah, Thy hurt is incurable, and thy wound grievous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines. All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not: for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the greatness of thine iniquity, because thy sins were increased. Why criest thou for thy hurt? thy pain is incurable: for the greatness of thine iniquity, because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee. Therefore all they that devour . thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that despoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey. For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith Jehovah, because they have called thee an outcast, saying, It is Zion whom no man seeketh after."
"Thy hurt is incurable ... I will heal thee of thy wounds ..." (Jeremiah 30:12,17). From the human standpoint, there was no remedy for the condition of Israel, but God would supply the healing and restoration which were impossible from any other source.
Notice how the metaphors are multiplied here. There is an incurable sickness; there is a terrible wound; there are no medicines available; there is a lawsuit and no one to plead the cause of the defendant; all of Israel's lovers have forsaken her!
"Thy lovers have forgotten thee ..." (Jeremiah 30:14). "These were the surrounding nations upon which Israel had relied for help against Babylon."
"The greatness of thine iniquity . .. thy sins were increased ..." (Jeremiah 30:15). The terrible punishment which God decreed for Israel was fully justified and amply deserved by the apostate people.
"Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have compassion on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be builded upon its own hill, and the palace shall be inhabited after its own manner. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I shall also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all that oppress them, And their prince shall be of themselves, and their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is he that hath had boldness to approach unto me? saith Jehovah. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."
"I will turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents ..." (Jeremiah 30:18). The mention of tents here does not mean that most of the people were still nomads, dwelling in tents, because the parallelism stresses dwelling-places in the next line. These verses look to the time when Israel's punishment has been completed and a marvelous prosperity will return to them. "The prophet speaks of Judah here as a type of the Church, with Immanuel as her king." The title of all four of the chapters here is "The New Covenant"; and the racial Israel hardly enters the picture at all.
"And the city shall be builded upon its own hill ..." (Jeremiah 30:18). "The Hebrew word here for `hill' means mound (of a ruined city) and corresponds to the Arabic `tell.' Notice how many place-names have this word: Tel Aviv (Ezekiel 3:15), Tel el-Amarna (in Egypt), Tel Assar (2 Kings 19:12), Tel Melah and Tel Harsha (Ezra 2:59)." For ages, in the East, it was customary to build cities upon the ruins (the tels) of cities that had been destroyed in order to decrease the chance of floods and to strengthen fortifications.
"Their prince shall be of themselves, and their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them ..." (Jeremiah 30:21). It is the great prophecy of the Christ given by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 that explains these clauses. The Anchor Bible renders this whole verses thus:
"Their prince shall be one of their own,
Their ruler shall come from their midst;
And Him I'll permit to approach me.
For who otherwise would be so bold
As thus to approach me? Yahweh's word."
Keil tells us that the very words of this verse were used in Exodus 19:6 to denote the approach of Moses to Jehovah on Mount Sinai, thus indicating the priesthood of the prince or ruler mentioned here. It would be difficult to frame a verse more specifically identifying the character of these verses as "Like unto Moses" than what is given here. Moses was priest and king, so is Jesus Christ. Moses was "from the midst of the brethren" even as he prophesied that Christ also would be from the midst of the brethren.
This picture of a ruler-priest finds its Old Testament type also in the example of Melchizedek in Psalms 110.
For these and other reasons we find here a clear prophecy of the Messiah. As Keil expressed it, "Herein is contained the truth, that the sovereignty of Israel, as restored, culminates in the kingdom of the Messiah."
As Thompson noted, "The passage has a peculiarly Messianic ring to it." One such evidence was pointed out by Henderson who wrote of the question asked by God Himself "Who would be so bold as to approach me? ... Such an approach had never been made before; the question is put as something altogether unique."
Furthermore, both Henderson and Albert Barnes translate Jeremiah 30:21 thus, "And his Glorious One shall spring from himself." Such terminology is exclusively applicable to the Messiah. Matthew Henry also concurred in this rendition.
"Behold the tempest of Jehovah, even his wrath, is gone forth, a sweeping tempest. It shall burst upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of Jehovah shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall understand it."
Matthew Henry commented at length upon this revelation of the wrath of God, "as something very terrible, sudden, irresistible, hurtful and sure to accomplish God's will."
God's purpose to destroy wickedness from before his presence will be executed with no less precision and power than the execution of his purpose to redeem and bless those who love him.
We have already met with these two verses in Jeremiah 23:19-20; and, of course, radical critics never miss an opportunity to scream "interpolation" or "gloss." We appreciate the marvelous way in which Keil demonstrated that the subtle differences in the two passages are extremely significant in the different contexts and that, "There is thus no good ground for considering these verses a later interpolation into the text."
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 30". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17