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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 33

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-13

Jer 33:1-13

Jeremiah 33:1-5


Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the guard, saying, Thus saith Jehovah that doeth it, Jehovah that formeth it to establish it; Jehovah is his name: Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and will show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not. For thus saith Jehovah, the 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 defence] against the mounds and against the sword; while [men] come to fight with the Chaldeans, and to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my wrath, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city:

Jehovah that doeth it...

(Jeremiah 33:2). Some have supposed this to be a reference to the Creation; but it appears more logical to see it as a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem then in progress.

Houses which are broken down...

(Jeremiah 33:4). Due to difficulties in the text, some have supposed the destruction here to be connected with the demolition of houses by the army of the invaders; but our translation indicates that the houses were destroyed to provide materials for the erection of mantelets (Nahum 2:5) or mounds with which to oppose the invading Babylonians. We do not see the difference as a problem, because houses were in all probability destroyed by both the defenders and the invaders. Thus the text is true no matter which translation is used; it is true both ways.

To fill them with the dead bodies of men...

(Jeremiah 33:5). This was due to the fact of there being no time to bury the dead. All of the houses emptied of their residents due to military operations, whether of the defenders or the invaders, were used to stack the dead. The passage, due to textual uncertainties, remains enigmatical.

Jeremiah 33:6-9


Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them; and I will reveal unto them abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned against me, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And [this city] shall be to me for a name of joy, for a praise and for a glory, before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them, and shall fear and tremble for all the good and for all the peace that I procure unto it.

This passage is Messianic, as proved by the "forgiveness of sins" promised in Jeremiah 33:8. Also, it should be noted that it is not the impressiveness of the literal city of Jerusalem that will constitute the joy and praise and glory of God, but it will be "a name" (Jeremiah 33:9), should we say merely "a name?" Certainly it is true that today, the only connection that the Messianic kingdom has with literal Jerusalem is the "name of it," heaven itself being called in the New Testament, "The New Jerusalem"; and the spiritual mother of all Christians, being, in no sense whatever, a literal earthly city of any kind, much less, an earthly Jerusalem, but "the Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is our mother" (Galatians 4:26).

Another proof that we are here confronted with Messianic prophecies is seen in the fact that both the Northern and Southern Israels (Jeremiah 33:7) are promised a share in the blessings, an indication that all Jews of whatever tribe will have access to the New Covenant, along with all others of the human race, and upon the same terms.

Jeremiah 33:10-11


Thus saith Jehovah: Yet again there shall be heard in this place, whereof ye say, It is waste, without man and without beast, even 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 them that say, Give thanks to Jehovah of hosts, for Jehovah is good, for his lovingkindness [endureth] for ever; [and of them] that bring [sacrifices of] thanksgiving into the house of Jehovah. For I will cause the captivity of the land to return as at the first, saith Jehovah.

Since this was written while the siege was still in progress, while Zedekiah was still on the throne, and while Jeremiah was still a prisoner in the court of the guard, we have here the predictive prophecy of what will ultimately be said concerning the desolation of the city.

Also, here are very encouraging prophecies about the ultimate restoration and prosperity of the city.

In Psalms 106:1; Psalms 107:1; Psalms 108:1; and Psalms 136:1, some of the words of this passage are incorporated into the Psalms; and, "From this we gather that they became a regular part of the liturgical worship in the Jewish temple."

Jeremiah 33:12-13


Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Yet again shall there be in this place, which is waste, without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the hill-country, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks again pass under the hands of him that numbereth them, saith Jehovah.

The contrast between Jeremiah 33:10-11 and Jeremiah 33:12-13 emphasizes the great prosperity that is promised for Judah after their return from captivity, these blessings being typical of the great spiritual blessings under the Messiah. "Strangely enough, the Targum has a Messianic interpretation here and substitutes the word ’Messiah’ for the one counting the sheep." This at least indicates that from of old the whole chapter has been understood as Messianic.

The Promise of God Jeremiah 33:1-26

Shortly after he had received the comforting revelation of the preceding chapter, Jeremiah received yet another word from the Lord. At the time, Jeremiah was still imprisoned in the court of the guard (cf. Jeremiah 32:2). The genuineness of this passage has been questioned. But Hall is surely correct when he argues: “The situation, the language of the passage, and the comparison with other phrases of Jeremiah combine to refute the critical liberal claim that this is not genuine Jeremianic prophecy." The chapter contains promises which apply first to the people and kingdom in general (Jeremiah 33:4-13) and then to the royal and priestly offices in particular (Jeremiah 33:14-26).

1. An introductory word (Jeremiah 33:1-3)

The first three verses of chapter 33 are in the nature of a bridge between the preceding and the present chapter. The verses contain a declaration, an invitation and a promise.

The God who speaks to Jeremiah in the court of the guard declares Himself to be the Lord, Yahweh. The use of the Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew consonants which form the name of God par excellence) is significant in this passage. The name seems to have the meaning “He Who Is” and consequently denotes God as the Eternal, Self-existent One. The name Yahweh is also the covenant name of God and as such denotes God as the keeper of covenant promises, as the merciful benefactor of His people. Being eternal, God can look beyond the present difficulty and darkness to the bright and hopeful future when He in His mercy will restore Israel to Canaan.

God not only observes the future, he creates it. Thus God declares Himself to be “the Maker of it” and “the Former of it.” “That He may establish (or accomplish) it.” Commentators have puzzled over the significance of the objective pronouns in Jeremiah 33:2. What does God create, form, establish or accomplish? Whether “it” here refers to the universe or to the plan about to be revealed, the basic idea is the same: God has the power to fulfill His promises. Whatever God determines to do, He is able to bring to a successful conclusion. God’s very name, Yahweh, is a pledge that He will keep His word to His people (Jeremiah 31:35; Jeremiah 32:18).

In the opening words of Jeremiah 33:3 God invites His prophet or perhaps the nation as a whole to “call unto Me.” What a wonderful invitation! Jeremiah had prayed, inquiring as to the meaning of an act which God had required him to perform (Jeremiah 32:16-25). Here God places His stamp of approval on that prayer and encourages His prophet to approach the Lord more frequently with such requests. The prayer that grows out of perplexity often is labeled as doubt and is therefore discouraged. But here the God of all wisdom encourages the searching out of the mysteries of life through prayer. Furthermore, God under girds His invitation with a gracious promise: “I will answer you!” prayer is more effective than perhaps anyone realizes. Prayer is the key that opens the door to a new understanding of the power and purpose of God. The earnest petitioner will find his mind enlightened regarding the great and hidden things of life (Jeremiah 33:3).

2. General promises (Jeremiah 33:4-13)

The general promises contained in the verses now under consideration are in reality but a continuation and expansion of concepts in the preceding prophecy. God promises here to restore the people to the land (Jeremiah 33:4-9) and to restore prosperity to the land (Jeremiah 33:10-13).

When Jeremiah received this message of hope from the Lord the situation within Jerusalem was very grim. The houses of the city including the royal palaces had been torn down in order to strengthen Jerusalem against the mounds and weapons of the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 33:4). Ramps of debris and dirt which enabled the attackers to fight on more or less the same level as the defenders. Such ramps also enabled the battering rams to move close and batter the upper and weaker part of the city walls. Perhaps some houses near the city walls had to be removed in order to give the defenders more maneuverability. Part of the timber and stone taken from the houses would be used to strengthen the walls, and part would serve to plug the breaches made by the enemy battering rams. The word “sword” in Jeremiah 33:4 as frequently denotes the entire arsenal of weapons. The Judeans rushed to defend their walls in a heroic but futile attempt to defend the city but their resistance only added to the heaps of slain (Jeremiah 33:5), As one reads Jeremiah 33:4-5 he can feel the sense of desperation that prevailed within Jerusalem as the city prepared to make its final stand.

After painting this rather gloomy picture of the present conditions of Jerusalem the Lord outlines the glorious future He has planned for His people. After the day of wrath has accomplished its purpose the people of God will receive healing (Jeremiah 33:6-7), cleansing (Jeremiah 33:8) and blessing (Jeremiah 33:9). Destruction would be the gateway to restoration; death the gateway to life. Old Israel dies; a new Israel arises.

Though the Judeans had suffered a grievous wound at the hands of the Chaldeans, God would apply to the city a bandage which would result in healing (Jeremiah 33:6). The divine Healer will reveal or make manifest to them a superabundance of peace and truth. The word “peace” conveys the idea of physical and spiritual well-being; the word “truth,” the idea of God’s faithfulness to His promises. The nature of the healing is spelled out in Jeremiah 33:7. God will reverse the captivity of both Israel and Judah i.e., He will reverse the fortunes of the whole covenant nation. The wretchedness and misery of the moment will give way to permanent happiness and well-being. God will build them up as a nation and they will again know the prosperity of the Golden Age of David and Solomon.

That the healing is spiritual as well as physical and material is made clear by Jeremiah 33:8. The restoration of Israel to Palestine is never depicted in the Old Testament as a purely political event. A spiritual dimension is always present. The glorious vision of Jerusalem restored and flourishing is not allowed to overshadow the yet more glorious vision of a nation cleansed and purified. The Messianic cleansing here depicted has already been strongly emphasized in Jeremiah 31:34 and will again be discussed in Jeremiah 50:20.

Among the surrounding nations there will be two reactions to the external and internal renovation of Israel. The first reaction is one of joy. Jerusalem will develop into a city over which men will rejoice whenever her name is mentioned. The nations of the world will render praise and glory to the God of Israel for so blessing His people. The second reaction among the nations is fear. They shall behold all the good that God does for Jerusalem and they shall come to have that reverential awe that leads to conversion and salvation. A popular but manifestly wrong interpretation of the “fear” in Jeremiah 33:9 is as follows: The heathen infer that the God who so honors Israel will punish with equal emphasis those who disregard Him. The first part of the verse makes it clear that the fear mentioned here is a positive fear, a fear growing out of joy.

Jeremiah 33:10-13 tend to amplify the picture of prosperity which was painted in the previous verses. Here the prophet becomes more specific, showing how the joy and prosperity will affect the city (Jeremiah 33:10-11) and the country (Jeremiah 33:12-13). Throughout this chapter prosperity follows purification. Spiritual health is the key to material well-being.

Three times previously in the Book of Jeremiah the curse of God has been pronounced over Judah and Jerusalem: “I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall become a waste” (Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9; Jeremiah 25:10-11). Here he announces that the day will come when that curse will be removed. The streets of Jerusalem will once again echo with the sound of mirth and marriage. The majestic strains of the Temple liturgy will also be heard again and worshipers will bring their offerings as expressions of their praise for the Lord (cf. Jeremiah 17:26). That the three clauses “Praise the Lord of host: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endures forever” are liturgical forms used in Temple services seems to be indicated by 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3; 2 Chronicles 7:6; Ezra 3:11; Psalms 106:1 :

Passing from the joyous scenes within the cities, the Lord turns to the prosperity which will characterize the rural areas in the day of restoration. In those areas of the land which are presently so desolate sheep will once again find pasture (Jeremiah 33:12 cf. Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 6:2). Once again the populace would see the familiar sight of sheep passing under the hand each morning and evening as the shepherd numbered his flock (Jeremiah 33:13). The various geographical areas mentioned in Jeremiah 33:13 are not particularly important. This is another example of the literary technique already met in Jeremiah 32:44.

Verses 14-26

Jer 33:14-26

Jeremiah 33:14-18


Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will perform that good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is [the name] whereby she shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness. For thus saith Jehovah: David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt-offerings, and to burn meal-offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.

As noted in the chapter introduction, the only difficulty here is the apparent promise of the perpetual succession of his descendants upon the throne of David and also that of the permanent, unending restoration of the Levitical priests with their animal sacrifices, events which are denied absolutely by other passages of the Word of God. We have rejected the device which would remove this passage from God’s Word; and the best explanation of the true meaning, as we see it, is that of Payne Smith.

"The solution is probably as follows. It was necessary that the Bible should be intelligent to the people at the time when it was written, and in some degree to the writer. Neither writer nor the reader needed to know the whole meaning, but it must have had some meaning to them. But language can never rise above the ideas of the time; for words are merely symbols, taken at first from external objects, but gradually elevated and made to express mental emotions and spiritual conceptions. The Jew therefore could use only such symbols as he possessed; and in describing the perfections of the Christian Church, he was compelled to represent it as the state of things under which he had lived, freed from all imperfections. Thus we can form no idea of Deity except as a man freed from all human weakness ... So here; the Davidic kingdom and the Levitical priesthood are symbols that represented to the Jew all that was most dear to his heart in the state of things under which he lived."

The limitation of language itself has been frequently mentioned in my series of commentaries. "The waters above the firmament" in the Creation narrative, for example, actually refer to "moisture in the atmosphere, or clouds"; but the Jews had no word for "vapor"; therefore, the waters (liquid) were beneath the firmament, and the waters (vapor) were above the firmament.

Also, read the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation’s last two chapters. "Transparent gold" is an impossibility.

Language often breaks down as an inadequate vehicle for the conveyance of the thoughts of God; and so we believe is the case here. The continuity of a succession of rulers on the literal throne of David and the perpetual ministrations of the Levitical order in their offerings of burnt-offerings, etc., represented to the Jew the full and perpetual restoration of his national life, along with freedom from oppressive foreign rule, and restoration of all the rights and privileges of his holy religion: Furthermore, it was impossible for the Jewish mind to have comprehended such marvelous blessings apart from such promises as are found in these five verses.

Nevertheless, we believe that the words are also literally true when properly understood. How about all of those "kings" and "priests" which are promised here? They are those who have been loosed from their sins and cleansed in the blood of Christ. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:5-6, KJV).


These are Christians, called by the apostle Peter "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), and of whom the prophecy declares that "They live and reign with Jesus Christ a thousand years!" (Revelation 20:6). And just who are these? They are those who participated in the "first resurrection." They are those who experienced the new birth (Revelation 20:5).

And how about those "sacrifices" which are to be offered perpetually? "Ye (Christians) ... are a spiritual house, a royal (or holy) priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5).

And the burnt-offerings ... what about them? When the true sacrifice for sins, even Christ our Lord, died upon Calvary, the whole institution of animal sacrifices perished forever, never to be renewed. Therefore the perpetual sacrifices mentioned here refer not to burnt offerings, etc, but to "spiritual sacrifices," as indicated in the above paragraph. And exactly what are those spiritual sacrifices? They are the songs, the prayers, the charities, the good deeds, the faithful lives of true Christians. They are described in Hebrews.

"Through him (Christ) then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips that make confession to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:15-16).

These New Testament passages clear up completely any problems that are alleged to appear in these verses. Again we have proof that when radical critics wish to expunge some verse or some chapter from the Bible, it is merely because they cannot understand the passage; and for many of them, their failure is due to their apparent ignorance of everything in the New Testament.


I will cause a Branch of righteousness to arise unto David...

(Jeremiah 33:16). This prophecy parallels that of Jeremiah 23:1-8. (See notes on this above). It is amazing that Jehovah Our Righteousness, which is given there as the name of the Righteous Branch (The Messiah), appears here as the name of Jerusalem. This is no contradiction, because the New Jerusalem is the Church of God, completely identified with the True Israel who is Jesus Christ, a truth which becomes crystal clear in the New Testament. This designation of Jerusalem as Jehovah Our Righteousness makes it mandatory to read Jerusalem here as The New Jerusalem. All will admit the total impropriety of associating a name like that with the literal earthly Jerusalem.

Although his prophecies of the Messiah are not as extensive as those of Isaiah, Jeremiah nevertheless often spoke of the coming of the Messiah. "He spoke of the Messiah as ’The Spring of Living Waters’ (Jeremiah 2:13), ’The Good Shepherd’ (Jeremiah 23:4; Jeremiah 31:10), ’The Righteous Branch’ (here and in Jeremiah 23:5 f), ’The Redeemer’ (Jeremiah 50:34), ’The Lord Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6), ’David the King’ (Jeremiah 30:9), and as ’The Agent of the New Covenant’ (Jeremiah 31:31-34)."

Thus, we find no fault whatever with what the holy prophet has written here; and we believe that the full understanding of it is clear enough in the marvelous words of the New Testament. The literal interpretation which sees here a promise, not of One Davidic King alone, namely the Messiah, "but a series of Davidic descendants to occupy the throne of David" is incorrect. As Jellie noted, "It was impossible, and now is impossible, to restore: (1) either a literal reign of David’s descendants or (2) the Levitical priesthood, for two reasons: (a) Their genealogical tables have been irrecoverably lost, and (b) nothing short of a direct decision from God Himself could distinguish the descendants of David or Levi from the descendants of any other of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel."

Furthermore, it should be particularly noted that this chapter says nothing at all about any "succession" of Davidic kings, or any series of such rulers, but that he shall have "a son to reign upon his throne." That son is the Son of God, the Messiah. But how about the plurality that seems to be here implied? Well, Christ himself said of the Twelve Apostles, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28), a reference, of course, to the spiritual authority of the Apostles in God’s Church.

Jeremiah 33:19-22


And the word of Jehovah came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he shall not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.

"The promise of an innumerable posterity once given to the patriarchs, as in Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17, etc., is here applied to the descendants of David and to the number of God’s ministers." This means that the numbers of people who will serve the Messiah shall indeed be, "A great multitude which no man could number, out of every nation and all tribes and peoples’ and tongues" (Revelation 7:9).

And how are all these "descendants of David?" By virtue of all Christians being "in Christ," they are thereby sons of David and also sons of Abraham (Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:29). Also, we have already noted how all Christians are priests unto God.

Jeremiah 33:23-26


And the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which Jehovah did choose, he hath cast them off? thus do they despise my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith Jehovah: If my covenant of day and night [stand] not, if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I also cast away the seed of Jacob, and of David my servant, so that I will not take of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and will have mercy on them.

Take of his seed to be rulers...

(Jeremiah 33:26). That there will indeed be of the seed of David (Christians) those who will be rulers (plural) over the seed of Abraham (once racial Israel, but now all Christians everywhere) is an unwavering promise of God; and, at this very moment it is being fulfilled all over the world in the Apostles of Christ and in all Christians who are reigning with Christ.

Things looked very dark indeed for Israel at this sad juncture in their lives. They were about to be deported into a shameful exile in Babylon for a period of seventy years. All of their ancient glory which they remembered from the Solomonic empire had been blotted out forever; and, for many of the people, it seemed like the end of all hope. But God knew what he was doing. Descendants of David would indeed return from the captivity; and, in the fullness of time, Mary the betrothed wife of Joseph, one of the descendants of David through Nathan, would lay the infant Messiah in the Bethlehem manger!

3. Special promises (Jeremiah 33:14-26)

In the grandiose promises of this paragraph the Book of Consolation reaches its climax. Since these verses are absent in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, some liberal critics have questioned the genuineness of the passage. They are also quick to point out that Messianic concepts are introduced here which find no parallel in the rest of the Book of Jeremiah. But a prophet must be allowed freedom to express the Messianic hope in a variety of ways. The absence of the paragraph in the Septuagint version is difficult to explain no matter who is taken to be the author. Perhaps this paragraph was inserted into the book by Baruch after he emigrated to Babylon. If this was the case, then these verses would not be present in the Egyptian copy of the book from which the Septuagint translators made the Greek version. In any case this material certainly goes back to Jeremiah. Here the prophet focuses first on the grand Davidic Ruler of the future (Jeremiah 33:14-16) and then on the permanence of the royal and priestly offices in the new Israel (Jeremiah 33:17-26). In Jeremiah 33:14-16 the description of the happy future of Israel continues. The opening words “Behold, the days come” point to a certain but indefinite future. These words as used by Jeremiah become something of a Messianic pointer. God declares that He will certainly fulfill the good word that He has spoken to the covenant people. The “good word” probably refers back to the promise of a Righteous Sprout (Jeremiah 23:5-6). As if to remind Jeremiah of that promise, the Lord repeats it in Jeremiah 33:15. A Sprout of Righteousness shall spring from the stock of David who will restore justice and righteousness in the land. There can be scarcely any doubt that it is the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of David and Messiah of Israel who is depicted here. In the days of Messiah the people of God, symbolized by Judah and Jerusalem, will be delivered from their oppressors and enjoy peace and security. In the parallel passage it is Judah and Israel which will experience salvation and safety in the Messianic age. The change from “Israel” to “Jerusalem” seems to be an intentional alteration in the promise in order to apply it more specifically to the dire straits in which Jerusalem found itself. Literal Israel and Judah never regained political independence following the restoration to Palestine. They were dominated successively by the Persians, the Greeks, the Idumean Herodians and the Romans. Thus Judah and Jerusalem must be understood here spiritually of the church of Christ and the deliverance and safety promised should be regarded as spiritual blessings.

In those glorious days of which the prophet is speaking, spiritual Jerusalem, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, will actually wear the name of her Messiah and Master. She shall be called “The Lord our Righteousness” (cf. Jeremiah 23:6). It is altogether fitting and proper that the church being the bride of Christ should wear the same name of her divine husband. The holy city has taken on the character of her King.

In Jeremiah 33:17-18 the permanence of the kingly and priestly lines is affirmed. The expression “shall never lack a man” used twice in these verses is hardly meant to refer to a whole line of kings or priests. Rather this expression guarantees that the office of king and the office of priest is to be perpetual. The new Israel will have a throne and the one who will occupy that throne will be a descendant of David. The prophet reproduces almost verbatim the ancient promise made to David (1 Samuel 7:16) and repeated by David in his parting words to Solomon (1 Kings 2:4). When that promise was first given the line of David was in all the freshness of its strength. But in the present circumstances the line of David seemed to be one on the verge of total extinction. The prophet, however, sees beyond the present tragedy. He is certain that the royal line will survive the destruction of Jerusalem and that the true king of Israel will always come from the house of David.

During the intertestamental period some of the Hasmoneans called themselves king but they were not universally recognized as such. The Herodian dynasty, which still retained some measure of power in the days of Jesus, was never acknowledged as sitting on the throne of Israel. When the new Israel of God came into being on Pentecost the sovereign Ruler was a son of David, a legitimate King. See Luke 1:32-33; John 18:36; Ephesians 1:20-23; Revelation 17:14.

The priestly office as well as the royal office will survive the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple. The terminology “the priests the Levites” (KJV) or “the Levitical priests” (NASV) points to the fact that under the old covenant the priestly functions were the exclusive right of the descendants of Levi (Numbers 3:10; Numbers 16:40; Numbers 18:7). The New Testament categorically affirms that the Levitical priesthood has passed away (Hebrews 7:11). That priesthood was replaced by a new and better one inaugurated by Christ who was made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Furthermore, the New Testament affirms that those who have been baptized into Christ have become part of a holy priesthood (Hebrews 10:19-22). Christians do not offer before God burnt-offerings and meal-offerings for the perfect sacrifice for sins was made upon the cross of Calvary. Rather the Christian priesthood offers the sacrifices of praise (1 Peter 2:5) and the sacrifice of the body (Romans 12:1). Jeremiah himself hints at this dramatic change in the nature of the priesthood when he declares that the ark of the covenant will no longer be remembered in the Messianic age (Jeremiah 3:16). The removal of the ark of the covenant, which was so crucial in the rituals of Old Testament worship, points to a complete change in the nature of the priesthood.

In Jeremiah 33:19-22 the promise concerning David and the Levites is reproduced with even greater solemnity. These promises are placed on the same level of permanence as the God-ordained succession of day and night. As long as day follows night, God will be faithful to His commitment to guarantee the survival of the royal and priestly lines (Jeremiah 33:19-21).

The covenant with the line of David is given in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. The covenant with the Levi, referred to again in Malachi 2:4-5; Malachi 2:8, is not so explicitly stated. Probably the reference is to the promise made to Phinehas in Numbers 25:13. The argument of Jeremiah 33:19-22 is the same as in Jeremiah 31:35-37 except that here the argument is applied specifically to the monarchy and priesthood while in the earlier passage it is applied to Israel as a nation.

Jeremiah 33:22 affirms that the descendants of David and Levi will be innumerable. According to the prophecy of Isaiah all members of the Messianic Israel would be priests and ministers of the Lord. No longer would the priesthood be restricted to descendants of Levi, but any and every member of the nation—even Gentile converts—would be able to serve in the priestly capacities (Isaiah 66:20-21). Just as Messiah is both priest and king, so also are his subjects. These Old Testament prophecies find their fulfillment in the New Testament concept of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:9-10). Christians offer the sacrifice of praise before the throne of grace continually (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5). Furthermore, Christians are said to reign with Christ (Revelations Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 20:6). Just as Christians are spiritually the seed of Abraham (Romans 9:7-8; Galatians 3:29) so also are they envisioned in this prophecy as descendants of David and of Levi. Whatever may have been the thoughts of the prophet, one is justified in looking for the seed of David and the Levites in those who, by virtue of their union with Christ, are made both kings and priests (Revelation 1:6).

Apparently some found it hard to accept at face value these glorious promises regarding the future of the royal and priestly orders. God calls the attention of the prophet to the anguished cries of despair. God, it seemed, had altogether cast off his people. Gentiles looking upon the pitiful condition of Israel could only despise the people of God (Jeremiah 33:24). In response to the despondency of Israel and the disdain of Gentiles the prophet renews his assurance of the permanence of the kingly and priestly lines and in fact strengthens that assurance in three ways.

First, he mentions the names of the three great patriarchs of the race with whom God had already demonstrated His faithfulness in covenant keeping. Secondly, He connects his promises concerning David with a promise of a return from captivity (Jeremiah 33:26). When that return came, it would be the pledge of the yet greater blessings which were involved in the new and everlasting covenant. Finally, he repeats the analogy between His covenant with nature and His covenant with Jacob and David. As surely as God is responsible for the orderly processes of nature so surely has He ordained a glorious future for Jacob in general and David in particular.

Many prophecies of the Old Testament were never fulfilled. in a narrow, literalistic sense. The principle of interpreting every prophecy literally unless forced to do otherwise is not really valid in the light of the inspired interpretation of prophecy found in the New Testament. The prophets often used Mosaic terminology to describe the spiritual realities of the new covenant. So long as interpreters miss this point the prophetic books will remain an enigma and Messianic prophecies but utopian dreams. In painting his picture of the future the prophet of God utilized the forms, the terminology and concepts of his own day. That prophetic pictures of the Christian dispensation should be clothed in Jewish dress is not strange since this is the only form in which they could present any meaning to those to whom they were delivered. Those in the New Testament who were privileged to catch a glimpse of the heavenly Jerusalem exhausted the vocabulary of human language in describing the wonders they beheld. So the Old Testament prophets found it necessary to utilize the language of the old covenant worship to describe that of the new covenant. It is no doubt to such passages as Jeremiah 33 that Peter refers when he speaks of the prophets as “inquiring and searching diligently . what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

Promise of Restoration - Jeremiah 33:1-26

Open It

1. How do you feel when you have misplaced something you value highly, and then you find it?

2. What laws of nature are commonly used by writers, speakers, or other communicators to illustrate a point?

Explore It

3. Where was Jeremiah when God spoke to him? (Jeremiah 33:1)

4. How did God identify Himself to Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 33:2)

5. On what basis did God assert His authority to speak? (Jeremiah 33:2)

6. What invitation did God issue to Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 33:3)

7. What outcome did Jeremiah predict in the current war in which Babylon was besieging Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 33:4-5)

8. How did God promise to reverse His actions in the more distant future? (Jeremiah 33:6-7)

9. How would God satisfy His own righteousness with regard to the sin and rebellion of Judah? (Jeremiah 33:8)

10. How did God predict that the rest of the world would react to a restored Judah? (Jeremiah 33:9)

11. How did Jeremiah contrast the sights, sounds, and moods in Jerusalem before and after God’s merciful intervention? (Jeremiah 33:10-11)

12. What common sight of everyday life in Jeremiah’s time would serve as a sign of God’s restoration? (Jeremiah 33:12-13)

13. What promise did God make that should have given great hope to Jeremiah’s hearers? (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

14. What promise did God make to David and reiterate to Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 33:17-18)

15. What did God offer as the guarantee of His promises? (Jeremiah 33:19-22)

16. What conclusions were foreign nations drawing about God’s people as they were being punished? (Jeremiah 33:23-24)

17. How did God assure His people that He would indeed have compassion on them? (Jeremiah 33:23-26)

Get It

18. What may have been helpful about the fact that God revealed the near and distant future to Jeremiah at the same time?

19. What difference does it make that some of the prophecies about the Messiah were given to an imprisoned prophet in a besieged city?

20. How does God’s Lordship over Creation help us understand His power over human affairs?

21. What is an example of a "great and unsearchable thing" that has been revealed to us by God?

22. Why is God concerned when people misunderstand His nature?

Apply It

23. What example of God’s faithfulness in nature can inspire your understanding of His constant love for you?

24. What unanswered question of your heart will you call out to God?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapter Thirty-Three

By Brent Kercheville

1 Where is Jeremiah still (Jeremiah 33:1)?

2 What is God’s message in Jeremiah 33:2-9? What is the hope God offers?

3 What were the people saying (Jeremiah 33:10-13)? What was God saying?

4 What does God promise to do (Jeremiah 33:14-18)?

Write down all of the promises and their meaning.

What is significant about the prophecy in Jeremiah 33:17?

5 What is the hope for the people (Jeremiah 33:19-22)?

6 What were the people saying (Jeremiah 33:23-26)? What was God’s promise?


How does this relationship change your relationship with God?

What did you learn about him?

What will you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 33". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-33.html.
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