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We have in this chapter an explanation of the two paths presented in Jeremiah 21: the way to life and the way to death (Jeremiah 21:8-1 Samuel :). The explanation is presented in the picture of two baskets of figs: a basket of good figs and a basket of bad figs. One may expect any blessing from God if one first humbles himself. We must first acknowledge that we deserve judgment, then we will receive the blessing. The Judge Who condemns then becomes the Giver of blessing.
The Vision of the Two Baskets of Figs
The LORD draws Jeremiah’s attention to two baskets of figs set down before the temple of the LORD (Jeremiah 24:1). That they are set before the temple makes these baskets reminiscent of the basket of first fruits. That basket is set down by the priest before the altar (Deuteronomy 26:1-Numbers :). There is no mention of that here.
It is the time when the first deportation took place (2 Kings 24:8-Nehemiah :; 2 Chronicles 36:9-2 Samuel :). Nebuchadnezzar has taken carried away captive the leaders, leaving the people without leadership. He has also carried away captive the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and has brought them to Babylon, so that the people also have no people to provide them with means of defense and weapons.
We are told the contents of both baskets of figs. In the one basket are “very good figs” (Jeremiah 24:2). These good figs are “like first-ripe figs”, which are figs to be offered to the LORD as first fruits (Deuteronomy 14:22). They are good to eat (Isaiah 28:4; Hosea 9:10). The LORD says of them: “A first-ripe fig [which] I crave” (Micah 7:1). In the other basket are very bad figs, so bad that they cannot be eaten. The poor quality is emphatically mentioned.
Then the LORD asks Jeremiah what he sees (Jeremiah 24:3; cf. Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 1:13). Jeremiah must accurately tell what he sees so that the LORD can also make the meaning clear to him. His answer is that he sees figs and also that there is a great difference between them. He describes them exactly as they are described in the previous verse. This shows that he sees them as the LORD sees them.
Explanation of the Good Figs
Then the LORD goes on to give the meaning (Jeremiah 24:4). As “the LORD God of Israel”, the God of His people, Who knows His people through and through, He tells Jeremiah what the figs represent. He begins with the good figs (Jeremiah 24:5). The good figs are those who have been sent into exile by Him. They are gone from His land, but not from His heart. He regards them as good because they have accepted His discipline. What that good is, He then declares. We hear what He will do, showing that He has a fullness of blessing in mind for them.
They are under His discipline, but His eye remains on them for good (Jeremiah 24:6). If we also realize this despite all our unfaithfulness, that is already a great blessing. He shows His goodness by making them return to this land. The exile is not final, but temporary. He will build them and not, as it seems now, overthrow them. He will plant them and not, as it seems now, pluck them up. The restoration will be complete. This full restoration has not come after a remnant returns from Babylon to the land after seventy years of exile. That is a partial and also temporary restoration. The full restoration will take place in the end times.
The good figs are not in themselves better than the other figs. They are good because they bow under God’s judgment. Therefore, the LORD “will regard” them “as good” (Jeremiah 24:5) and set His eyes “on them for good” (Jeremiah 24:6). All the emphasis is on the fact that He will regard the exiles for good. This goes directly against the view of those left behind, who look down with contempt on those taken away, while seeing themselves as the faithful ones.
The LORD will also give those who are carried away a heart to know Him (Jeremiah 24:7). Then they will be in a close relationship with Him. They will know Him as the LORD, the God of the covenant, Who fulfills all His promises. They will be His people and He their God. It will be so because they will repent to Him “with their whole heart”. Then there will be perfect harmony between the LORD and His people because His people will be in complete accord with His plan.
Meaning of the Bad Figs
The judgment on the bad figs, which are those who remain in Jerusalem, is devastating. The basket of the bad figs is also before the temple (Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 24:1). These bad figs are overripe, rotten figs, which cannot be eaten. They are the sacrifices that God abhors (cf. Malachi 1:7-Ruth :). These sacrifices are made by people who are religious, but adhere to a self-willed religion. They do not ask themselves what God wants, but fill in for themselves what God should be satisfied with, while flattering themselves with the thought that they are bringing God sacrifices after all.
The bad figs represent Zedekiah and all those who remained in Jerusalem and also those who believe they escaped exile by fleeing to Egypt. They have not bowed under the discipline of God. However, there is no escape from God’s discipline. He will bring a heavier discipline upon them (Jeremiah 24:9). What will happen to them from the hand of the LORD will be an example to all the kingdoms of the earth from which they will be shocked. The reproach will be great. They will become a proverb and an object of ridicule and curse. They will be so in all the places to which the LORD will yet drive them.
All those who have remained in the land believing that the enemy will not be able to overcome them will perish there by violence, want or disease (Jeremiah 24:10). As a result, they will be destroyed from the land that the LORD gave them and their fathers, but on which they laid claim.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 24". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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