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CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—This chapter is in date and subject essentially linked to chapter 32. For Notes, therefore, see previous chapter.
Literary Criticisms.—Jeremiah 33:3. “MIGHTY THINGS:” altering ב into נ, making the word נְצֻרוֹת, the better statement, “hidden things which thou knowest not,” is gained, and this is probably the correct reading. Or retaining the word בְצֻרוֹת unaltered, which means fortified, it may be understood as impenetrable things, inaccessible things, and hence “secret things which thou knowest not.”
Jeremiah 33:4. “HOUSES WHICH ARE THROWN DOWN BY THE MOUNTS:” or against the mounts; for in sieges the enemy, as he encroached upon the city, pulled down houses as materials for his inner fortifications. “AND BY THE SWORD;” rather axes, so rendered in Isaiah 22:10.
Jeremiah 33:5. “THEY COME TO FIGHT.” The only nominative seems “the houses” of Jeremiah 33:4. But this is meaningless; so that for “they” we must read “the Jews.” Probably the ending of Jeremiah 33:4 might be joined to the beginning of Jeremiah 33:5, and read thus: “And by the sword they [the Jews understood, or “the kings of Judah” mentioned in Jeremiah 33:4] come to fight with the Chaldeans.”
Jeremiah 33:6. “I will bring IT health and cure,” i.e. the city; “and will cure THEM,” i.e. the people. Lit. “I will place upon it a bandage (chap. Jeremiah 8:22, Jeremiah 30:17) and healing:” a healing bandage.
Jeremiah 33:16. “She shall be called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” For explanation of this feminine reference of Messiah’s name, see Critical Note, following Homilies on the verse.
Jeremiah 33:14-26. This section is entirely omitted in the LXX., hence some of the German critics, such as Michaelis, Hitzig, and Movers (opposed, however, by Graf and Ewald), have treated this section as an addition by a later writer, the constantly imagined second Isaiah.
SURVEY OF CHAPTER 33
While Jerusalem’s ruin is actually occurring, its “houses” being demolished by the Chaldean engines of war (Jeremiah 33:4),
God promises its rebuilding (Jeremiah 33:6), so as to become “a name of joy” (Jeremiah 33:9); and assures to its inhabitants future prosperity and peace (Jeremiah 33:9-14).
In Messiah’s advent (Jeremiah 33:15) shall Israel’s future blessedness (Jeremiah 33:16) be culminated; and
In the perpetuity of Christ’s spiritual reign (Jeremiah 33:17-26) the sacred privileges “covenanted” to Israel shall be ceaselessly and universally enjoyed.
HOMILIES AND OUTLINES ON CHAPTER 33
Jeremiah 33:1-9. Theme: A DIVINE MESSAGE SENT INTO A PRISON. There are four or five most fertile suggestions which arise from these verses—
I. A true child of God and an honoured prophet in disgrace and affliction (Jeremiah 33:1).
Jeremiah’s affliction came upon him because of his fidelity to God.
Let not the child of God think that his sorrows are always because of his sins. “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” &c.
II. Though despised of man, the prophet was honoured of God (Jeremiah 33:1-2).
1. To receive communications from the Divine mind is the highest honour.
2. He whom God honours and owns as His child need not fear what man can do.
III. Divine consolation to an afflicted servant (Jeremiah 33:3).
1. The most precious of all privileges, that of prayer: “Call unto Me.”
2. The most marvellous of all assurances: “And I will answer thee.”
3. The most encouraging of all promises: “I will … show thee great and mighty things.”
IV. The adversity and prosperity of nations are under the control of God (Jeremiah 33:4-7).
1. It is impossible properly to construe the history of a nation without reference to the moral government of God.
2. National prosperity or adversity has always been in the line of national virtue or vice.
V. The essential conditions of national as well as individual healing (Jeremiah 33:8-9).
1. It is essential that God come to do the work. “I will cleanse,” &c.
2. It is essential that God work upon our moral natures. “I will cleanse them from all their iniquity.”
3. It is essential that God work upon our moral natures by the assurance of the forgiveness of sin. “I will pardon all,” &c.
4. This moral and spiritual cleansing and pardon are essential for the appreciation of the Divine goodness: “And they shall fear,” &c.
5. This spiritual healing shall manifest forth the glory of God: “It shall be to Me a name,” &c.—Rev. D. C. Hughes.
Jeremiah 33:3. Theme: PRAYER BY GOD’S AFFLICTED SERVANT ENCOURAGED BY GRACIOUS ASSURANCES. “Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
The most eminent men have been found in the school of affliction: David, Jeremiah, &c.
I. The privilege encouraged, “Call unto Me.”
II. The season specified, “While in the court of the prison.”
III. The assurance given, “I will answer thee.”
I. The privilege encouraged, “Call unto Me.” The importance of this appears—
1. From the gracious condescension that enjoins it. God says, “Call unto Me,” not for His own sake, but for ours. Not so much the injunction of duty, as the revelation of privilege.
God would have the intercourse between earth and heaven continually kept up and renewed, because of the benefit that accrues to the Church from this exercise. If we had no sins to be pardoned, no wants to be supplied, enemies to be subdued; if we were as sinless as the first Adam and as all-sufficient as the Second, it would still be our highest duty and privilege to “call upon God,” and to keep up an unbroken intercourse between earth and heaven.
2. From the examples that encourage it. The conduct of our Lord, who, though He received not the Spirit by measure, but held the worlds of nature and of grace at His own command, yet continued all night in prayer to God. He knew prayer prospers all, and He would undertake nothing without prayer. When about to enter upon His public ministry by baptism, we are told, As Jesus “was praying the heavens opened, and the Holy Ghost descended on Him, with this voice, Thou art My beloved Son.” When He would commission and send forth His disciples to preach His Gospel, He first sets His disciples praying, “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest;” and He Himself went out into a mountain to pray (Matthew 9:38; Luke 6:12). And when He was to engage in His last encounter with the prince of this world, “He prayed the more earnestly, with strong cryings and tears, to Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared,” so that He won the field, though, like Sampson, he lost His life—the spoils of which glorious victory the Church shall divide and enjoy to all eternity.
3. From the endless misery that must ensue without it. If Paul says, “Pray without ceasing,” what must be the danger of those who never pray? A prayerless heart may be considered as a defenceless citadel lying open and exposed to every foe. Whereas the heart of one truly devout is like a castle in which the Lord dwells, and which is garrisoned with the Divine presence.
II. The suitableness of prayer in times of trial; for it was “while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison.”
He who bore the burden of our sins is ready to bear the burden of our sorrows. Care is a burden; but that may be cast on God.
Though shut out from communion with men, he was not shut out from communion with God.
Prayer is the privilege of all times. We need it in prosperity to prevent our table from becoming our trap and our snare; but it is our special relief in adversity. James says, “Is any afflicted? let him pray.” Men have great need for prayer, then, when trial abounds, when temptations multiply, and when the energies of the mind are unequal to the vicissitudes of life. We should pray for support under them, for improvement by them, and for deliverance from them.
1. For support under them.
Paul, when he was buffeted by Satan, besought the Lord thrice, and obtained the relief he most needed, “My grace shall be sufficient for thee.”
Moses promised the Israelites, “The eternal God is thy Refuge,” &c.
2. For improvement by them, that they may now, or afterwards, “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.”
Affliction is often an instrument of improvement, but it requires grace to make it so; and prayer is the appointed means of drawing down the blessing.
Some are hardened by affliction and separated farther from God; some are softened by affliction and thus made more like Him. These, “by the sadness of the countenance, find the heart made better.” This, however, does not arise from the necessary and independent nature of adversity, but from the kindly and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Pharaoh hardened himself more and more under the plagues of Egypt till He was finally given over to a reprobate mind. Job was made more humble and holy by his calamities because God was with him through them.
Pray for gracious influences under humbling trials.
3. For deliverance from them. Jeremiah did not die in the prison, but was brought out of it. He always remembered the Divine communion he enjoyed there.
III. The promise annexed—
1. Of a gracious audience. “I will answer thee.”
God always hears, though He does not instantly answer. He heard and answered Jeremiah, though He did not immediately release him from the dungeon.
We often think that our prayers are not heard because they are not answered in the time and the way that we should prefer and expect. Yet the prayer is really answered if there be a gradual preparation of events for our benefit, and a gradual preparation of our hearts and minds to bear and do God’s holy will. If we pray against unbelief, the prayer is answered if our faith is silently strengthened. If we pray for patience, the prayer is answered if we are kept from sinking into despair under the trouble. If we pray for holiness, the prayer is answered when we are enabled to “resist even to blood, striving against sin.” If we pray for deliverance from trouble, the prayer is answered by God’s raising up friends who may support and comfort us, and finally be the means of our security and our rescue.
2. Of special Divine illumination. “I will show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Hidden things.
The school of the cross is the school of light. God shows His people great and mighty things concerning Himself, “the secret of the Lord;” concerning the interests of the Church; concerning the kingdom of Christ (Jeremiah 33:14-16).—S. Thodey, 1849.
Jeremiah 33:3. Theme: PRAYER ENCOURAGED. Such words must have been as a gleam of light shining through the bars of the prophet’s dungeon.
I. The invitation to prayer. “Call upon Me.”
1. Whence came the invitation? “The word of the Lord came” (Jeremiah 33:1). His voice it is we hear inviting us, “The Lord” (Jeremiah 33:2). How should every ear be attentive when Jehovah speaks and bids His creatures “call,” &c.!
2. To whom does He address these words? A lonely prophet, in his solitary dungeon. And it is to all who are “prisoners of hope” this invitation is given.
3. Observe the single Object of our worship. “Call upon Me.” Vain is all other refuge, insufficient all other sources of consolation.
4. But when may we call on God? There is no limit as to time, or circumstance, or state of mind we are in.
5. The manner in which we should pray. “Call upon” denotes earnestness, fervency, perseverance. If our petitions breathe the spirit of earnest supplication, if they are the language of want, sorrow, sin, or of devout adoration and thanksgiving, they are equally acceptable.
6. He who asks us to pray has promised His grace to teach us how to pray (Romans 8:26).
II. Exceeding precious encouragements annexed to the invitation.
1. The promise is as general and unlimited as the invitation. “I will answer thee.” Nothing said as to the mode, time, or place.
(a.) Sometimes “before they call,” &c. (Isaiah 45:24), as in Acts 12:5.
(b.) Sometimes He “makes as though He heard not,” though they knock. Temporary denial adds zeal to the suppliant, and sweetens the blessing when it is vouchsafed.
(c.) Sometimes in a manner wholly different from our expectations. Thus Paul “besought the Lord thrice” for the thorn to be removed, but God answered by making “grace sufficient.” We ask deliverance from trials, &c., but God opens only “a way of escape that we may be able to bear it.” We pray for spirituality, to be weaned from the world, and “He takes away the desire of our eyes with a stroke.”
2. But the assurances here go beyond simple answer to prayer. “I will show thee great and mighty things,” &c. Some of these are enumerated in the following verses, and clearly point to spiritual blessings and to Christ Himself.
1. Healing from the wounds of the enemy (Jeremiah 33:6). He is the great Physician.
2. Liberty from the bondage of sin (Jeremiah 33:7).
3. Entire purification and justification (Jeremiah 33:8).
4. The wonders of redeeming grace and love (Jeremiah 33:14), &c.
Notably is promised here STILL FURTHER AND FULLER REVELATION, AND DEEPER EXPERIENCE OF DIVINE THINGS. “I will show thee,” &c.
(a.) So that, whatever has been already enjoyed, there are more glorious and delightful things to be attained (John 1:50). New wonders shall meet the eye of faith; more “abundant peace” (Jeremiah 33:6) shall fill the heart, &c.
(b.) If it is not so—and alas! many believers decline, in their experience and privilege, instead of advancing, crying, “Oh that it were with me as in times past!”—it is because they do not maintain earnest prayer. “Call upon Me, and I will show,” &c.
(c.) How many great and gracious things the Lord is waiting to reveal to us! Blessed they who “go from strength to strength,” who “follow on to know the Lord.”
Let us all examine ourselves—
i. Not to “call upon God” is to forfeit the name of Christian. The Apostle uses the descriptive phrase of believers, as “those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord.” To live without prayer is to live without Christ and without hope.
ii. Let those who profess to cultivate the duty of prayer consider well the character of their devotions. The prayers of many are lamentably cold, formal, and unbelieving. Hence these blessings here assured are so rarely enjoyed.—Anonymous MS., dated A. D. 1836.
Jeremiah 33:3. Theme: THE GOLDEN KEY OF PRAYER. God’s people have always in their worst conditions found out the best of their God.
Rutherford has a quaint saying, that “when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he always remembered that the great King kept His wine there, and he at once searched for the wine-bottles and drank ‘wines on the lees well refined.’ ”
Those who dive into the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.
I. Prayer commanded.
1. This is great condescension. So great is the infatuation of man on the one hand, which makes him need a command to be merciful to his own soul, and so marvellous the condescension of God on the other that He issues a command of love.
2. Our hearts so despond over our unfitness and guilt, that but for the command we might fear to approach.
3. It is remarkable how much more frequently God calls us to Him in Scripture than we find there our sinfulness denounced!
4. Nor by the commands of the Bible alone are we summoned to prayer, but by the motions of His Holy Spirit.
II. An answer promised.
1. God’s very nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ, assures us that He will accept us in prayer.
2. Our own experience leads us to believe that God will answer prayer; e.g., the conversion of many a child has been an answer to parents’ pleadings with God.
3. Yet God does not always give the thing we ask.
Lord Bolingbroke said to the Countess of Huntingdon, “I cannot understand, your ladyship, how you can make out earnest prayer to be consistent with submission to the Divine will.”
“My lord,” she said, “that is a matter of no difficulty. If I were a courtier of some generous king, and he gave me permission to ask any favour I pleased of him, I should be sure to put it thus: ‘Will your majesty be graciously pleased to grant me such and such a favour; but at the same time, though I much desire it, if it would in any way detract from your majesty’s honour, or if in your majesty’s judgment it should seem better that I did not have this favour, I shall be quite as content to go without it as to receive it.’ So you see I might earnestly offer a petition, and yet might submissively leave it with the king.”
III. Encouragement to faith. “I will show,” &c.
1. Promised to God’s prophet, this specially applies to every teacher. The best way for a teacher or learner in Divine truth to reach the “deeper things of God” is to be much in prayer. How did Daniel find out Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? Set himself to prayer. When John saw the book was sealed, “he wept much,” and those tears were his liquid prayers; then “the Lion of the tribe of Judah opened the book.”
Luther says, “Bene orare est bene studuisse”—To have prayed well is to have studied well.
2. The saint may expect to discover deeper experience and to know more of the higher spiritual life, by being much in prayer; e.g., Jacob wrestling for the blessing and name.
3. It is certainly true of the sufferer under trial; if he waits on God he shall have greater deliverance than he ever dreamed of (Lamentations 3:57).
4. Here is encouragement for the worker. We know not how much capacity for usefulness there is in us. More prayer will show us more power.
5. This should cheer us in intercession for others. “The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.”
6. Some are seekers for your own conversion. Pray, and see if God will not “show you great and mighty things.”—C. H. Spurgeon, A.D. 1865.
Jeremiah 33:3. Theme: TRUTHS GREAT AND MIGHTY. We know but in part. Without Divine teaching we should have known nothing essentially “great.” Suppose God had taught us nothing by revelation or inspiration, we should have known nothing which relates to our highest interests.
I. By His Word God has already shown us great and mighty things which we knew not and could not have known: incarnation, redemption, regeneration, resurrection, and man’s final destiny.
II. Yet though these great and mighty things are known, they have not been “shown” to men in their reality and supreme importance.
But when God, who brought light out of darkness, shines into the dark mind, that mind sees “the great and mighty” truths. The Spirit’s teaching differs from the teaching of revelation in this—giving to the mind a due appreciation of the truths revealed.
III. Scientific truths are what they are whether man understands them or not; but, till instructed, men understand not their value. So the truths of revelation are what they are; but, till men are enlightened by the Divine Spirit, they are not understood in their essential greatness and importance.
The Spirit “takes the things of Christ and reveals them” unto us—such things as “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” &c.
IV. In value, importance, and results they infinitely transcend all other things.
What have the “great and mighty” truths of science and philosophy done for the world or for man, compared with the greater and mightier truths of the Gospel? Have they answered the question, “What must I do to be saved?” healed a broken heart; led men to contentment with their lot; taught them how to live or die?
V. Yet, there are greater and mightier truths to be known, even by us who have sat at Jesus’ feet and learned of Him. There are yet “deep things of God” which are to us unknown. If there are mysteries which “angels desire to look into;” so there are things our feeble minds cannot comprehend and our partially sanctified hearts cannot understand.
VI. The deeper our consciousness of this fact, the greater will be our desire for more light. To obtain which there must be fervent, earnest prayer. “Call upon Me,” &c.
And also a holy walking with God. “He gives to the man that is good in His sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.”
Thus, to the prayerful and holy, God makes revelations of “great and mighty things,” of which men of greater talent and higher culture are left in ignorance. “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
VII. That is a poor philosophy which leaves men unacquainted with those “great and mighty things” essential to their eternal welfare; which leaves them to grope on in darkness through life’s pathway, and then to die and perish in their sins.
That is the true philosophy which “brings life and immortality to light,” and then leads the soul on to the full realisation of bliss when the shadows of time have passed away.
Does any man lack this wisdom? “Let him ask of God,” &c.
Many mistake mere knowledge for this “wisdom which is from above.” Learning may prevail, knowledge may abound, wit may be common, but
“Wisdom is rare, Lorenzo.”
But it belongs to them who are “taught of God,” and “learn of Jesus.”—Rev. D. Pledge, “Walks with Jeremiah.”
Jeremiah 33:6. Theme: THE GOSPEL A SURE REMEDY. A promise to the unhappy nation of the Jews of blessings yet in store for them. Let us apply the passage for our own edification—as containing a beautiful representation of the Lord’s dealings with the souls whom He redeems. Three stages of His gracious operations as the Great Physician—
I. He visits His poor patients with an all-sufficient remedy in His hand.
II. Applies that remedy. Not only “brought near,” but applied.
III. Confers great blessings in consequence on the healed ones. “Abundance of peace and truth.”
(1.) Privileges of the redeemed sinner: “peace” with God; “truth” of His grace, His covenant, His promises.
(2.) Character acquired by the redeemed sinner in consequence of his faith: a peaceful spirit; walking in the truth. “An Israelite in whom is no guile.”
Have you sought healing?—Rev. Arthur Roberts, M.A., “Village Sermons,” vol. ii.
Jeremiah 33:6-9. Theme: ISRAEL INGATHERED—A MATTER OF IMPORTANCE TO GOD AND MAN. “I will cause the captivity of Israel and Judah to return,” &c.
This passage has never yet been fulfilled; not only because the ten tribes of Israel have not been combined with Judah, but because the effects here announced of that event were never produced by their return from Babylon; for the nations of the earth have never been made to “fear and tremble” by reason of the goodness and prosperity of the Jewish nation.
I. The event predicted. God promises them here—
1. A discovery of His will. In their whole civil and ecclesiastical condition they are “sick,” &c. (Isaiah 1:5-6). But God will “restore health,” &c. They are in “blindness” and “ignorance,” but God will “reveal unto them abundance of peace and truth.”
2. A manifestation of His favour. “Will build them as at the first” (Jeremiah 33:7, also in Jeremiah 33:11). All shall be renewed to them with tenfold advantage (chap. Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 30:20).
3. A communication of His grace. Sins cleansed (Jeremiah 33:8); iniquities cast to oblivion (Micah 7:19; Jeremiah 50:20); renewed natures (Ezekiel 36:24-27).
II. The vast importance of this event. If we contemplate only the happiness of that people, the temporal, spiritual, and eternal happiness of those living and those yet to live, how important the event here predicted! But, limiting attention to the text, mark—
1. The interest God Himself has in it. “It shall be to Me a name of joy,” &c. (Jeremiah 33:9). Comp. also Isaiah 65:18-19; Zephaniah 3:17; and Isaiah 62:4-5.
It will also greatly honour God. He is glorified in His works of creation; but how much more when “all the nations of the earth shall hear” (Jeremiah 33:9) of God’s recovery of His people—it shall be “a praise and an honour.” Comp. Isaiah 60:20-21; Isaiah 61:1-3; Isaiah 62:3.
2. The interest of the whole world involved in it. At this wonderful sight will “all the nations of the earth fear and tremble.” At their rescue from Egypt, a somewhat similar effect was produced (Exodus 15:15-16); and the like terror shall be created then (Micah 7:15-17).
But others will regard the event with a grateful awe, “will fear and tremble for all the goodness and prosperity that God hath procured unto His people.”
Indeed this shall incite beholders to conviction and faith (Zechariah 8:23). To this Paul alludes: “If the fall,” &c., “what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15.)—Chas. Simeon, M.A., A.D. 1828.
On Jeremiah 33:10-11. DESOLATION OF JOY; JOY RESTORED; see Homilies, &c. on chap. Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9; Jeremiah 25:10-11; and also Jeremiah 17:26.
“Praise the Lord of Hosts; for the Lord is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.”
It was the customary form of liturgical thanksgiving (Psalms 106:1; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3; 2 Chronicles 7:6).
They were actually used by the Jews at their restoration (Ezra 3:11).
On Jeremiah 33:12-13. Imagery of Shepherds and their Flocks, see on chap. Jeremiah 31:24.
On the words in Jeremiah 33:13, “The flocks pass again UNDER THE HANDS OF HIM THAT TELLETH THEM,” see Milton’s line in L’Allegro—
“While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o’er the furrowed land;
And the milkmaid singeth blithe;
And the mower whets his scythe;
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale—”
i.e., counts the number of the sheep he has in charge, so the Good Shepherd “calleth all His sheep by name” (John 10:3). And in 3 John 1:14, the Apostle says, “Greet the friends by name.”
On Jeremiah 33:14. “The good thing I have promised;” see chap. Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 29:10.
Jeremiah 33:15. Theme: THE BRANCH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. This verse is the exact repetition of chap. Jeremiah 23:5. See Homilies on that verse, pp. 442, 443, 444: “The Kingdom of the Messiah;” “The Nature and Prosperity of Messiah’s Reign.”
Jeremiah 33:16. Theme: A BRIGHT ERA FOR MANKIND. “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.”
Same words in chap. Jeremiah 23:6. See Homily there.
Theme: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. See Homily on chap. Jeremiah 23:6; also, “Christ’s Supreme Name;” “The Christian Creed Summarised;” and
“Jehovah Justitia Nostra,” pp. 444–448.
See specially sermon on Sections 1–8 of chap. 23.
JUDAH’S RESTORATION UNDER JEHOVAH TSIDKENU, pp. 438, 439, by Robert Gordon, D.D., and Noticeable Topic: JESUS OUR LORD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS, by Bishop Reginald Heber, pp. 458, 459.
Jeremiah 33:14-16. Theme: JESUS CHRIST AS KING.
I. From what a noble royal stock did He proceed! Raised by God; descended from David; both by His Deity and His humanity heir to the throne.
II. How well has he exercised His rule! “With judgment and righteousness.” He Himself is “The Lord our Righteousness.”
III. How widely does His dominion extend! From Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
IV. How safely does His people dwell! Kept by Him in security and peace.—Naumann, in Lange.
Jeremiah 33:16. Theme: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Deep-wounding—from views of Christ pierced by our sins, precedes deep peace—from views of His righteousness. Originally spoken to Judah and Israel.
I. It is the sight of a Divine righteousness. Jehovah has made the atonement.
II. It is a living righteousness. Jehovah is the righteousness. A living One gives it. He is exalted to give it. He comes to you with the offer of it.
III. It is an appropriated righteousness. “Our.” It would not give me peace to see the whole world clothed in Christ, if I were not! No delight to me except I am sitting under His shade myself—under the rock.
The joy of Paul was, “Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness,” &c.; of Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”
1. The rest of a believer consists in knowing that Jehovah is his righteousness.
2. The folly of those who rest in seeking is evident—“ever learning, yet never coming,” &c.
3. We see the misery of unbelievers. There is a glorious Divine righteousness that would make the blackest fair.
It will be your eternal torment, that so glorious a righteousness was offered you, and you died without it.—R. Murray M‘Cheyne, 1844.
CRITICAL NOTE (Jeremiah 33:16). “SHE shall be called The Lord our Righteousness.” In Jeremiah 23:6, the name, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” is given to Christ; it is “the name whereby He shall be called.” In this verse the name is given to her, לָהּ., i.e., to Jerusalem.
Henderson alters לָהּ to להֹ, a not uncommon masculine form in the Hebrew; and reads the verse “whereby He shall be called” (as in chap. Jeremiah 23:6). And the Syriac and Targum point לּה as a masculine; the Vulgate also has “eum.”
But Wordsworth, retaining the feminine, comments thus: “This is to be explained by the union of the Church with Christ (see Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:15-16; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 6:23-24; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24); so that what belongs to Him is communicated to her. (So Calvin and others.) Thus, by virtue of her mystical union with Christ, and by the importation of His merits and the infusion of His Spirit, the name of the Church may be said to be ‘The Lord our Righteousness;’ she hides herself in Him, and is seen by God as in Him; she is clothed with Christ the Sun of Righteousness (see Revelation 12:1), and is accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).”
Dr. Payne Smith says: The name “is here given to Jerusalem, i.e., to the Church, because it is her business mediately to work on earth that righteousness which Christ works absolutely. The Church justifies men only because its ordinances bring men to Christ.” Comp. Ephesians 1:23.
Jamieson remarks: “Jerusalem is called by the same name as Messiah, by virtue of the mystical oneness between her (as the literal representative of the spiritual Church), and her Lord and Husband. Thus, whatever belongs to the Head belongs also to the members (Ephesians 5:30; Ephesians 5:32). Hence the Church is called ‘Christ’ (Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 12:12). The Church hereby professes to draw all her righteousness from Christ (Isaiah 45:24-25). It is for the sake of Jerusalem, literal and spiritual, that God the Father gave this name (Jehovah Tsidkenu) to Christ.”
Jeremiah 33:17-18. Theme: PERPETUITY OF DAVID’S REIGN AND OF THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD. The literal sense of these words is, that there shall be an absolute perpetuity of the Davidic and Levitical succession. These words accord with 2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Kings 2:4; Psalms 89:4; Psalms 89:29; Psalms 89:36; Numbers 25:12. But—
I. Historic events refuted the literal interpretation.
1. As to David. No lineal descendant of David occupied the Jewish throne after Zedekiah, “the Asmonæan princes being of the tribe of Levi, while Herod was not a Jew at all but an Idumæan.”—Henderson.
2. As to the Levitical priesthood. Although after the captivity the Levitical priesthood attained great power for a time, indeed until the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, yet since then it has absolutely ceased.
II. Prophecy itself foretold their literal cessation. Indeed Jeremiah himself thus announced their failure—
1. As to the Davidic kingdom (Jeremiah 22:30; Jeremiah 30:21).
2. As to the Levitical priesthood (Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 31:33).
III. Their literal fulfilment cannot be associated with the future restoration of the Jews to Palestine. The Davidic reign and Levitical priesthood cannot then be restored. For—
1. Their genealogical tables have been irrecoverably lost.
2. Nothing short of a miracle would be required to distinguish then between who are descendants of David and who those of Levi.—Henderson.
IV. New Testament teaching declares the absolute supercession and substitution of the spiritual for the literal royalty and priesthood. Its teachings are that—
1. No king of the family of David shall reign but the Messiah; and the seat of His government is not an earthly, but a heavenly throne (Luke 1:32-33).
2. The Levitical services have been for ever abrogated by the unchanging and unceasing priesthood of Christ (Hebrews 7:12-28).
V. What explanations remove the seeming error of these predictions?
1. The Davidic kingship and Levitical priesthood are symbols, which represented to the Jew all that was most dear to his heart in the state of things under which he lived—his national existence and freedom from foreign oppression (which was bound up in the thought of David’s perpetual kingdom), and his religious privileges and hopes (associated inseparably with the perpetuity of the Levitical ministries). Their restoration was therefore synonymous with the restoration of his national and spiritual life. But neither was so restored as to exist permanently. But that was given instead of which both were types: the CHURCH, whose Head is the true Prophet, Priest, and King.—Dr. Payne Smith.
2. The spiritual interpretation: its application to the MESSIAH in His regal and sacerdotal offices. The throne of David is the spiritual throne, which, as his descendant, Messiah is to fill for ever (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:32-33). And as David’s reign is thus carried forward spiritually, so the Levites may be said never to “want a man” to present sacrifices, inasmuch as “the man Christ Jesus” “ever liveth” to present the merits of His own sacrifice.—Henderson.
3. These pledges of perpetuity find their fulfilment in the royalty and priesthood of all Christian souls; called a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5-9); “kings and priests unto God” (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10); “priests of God and of Christ, who shall reign” (Revelation 20:6).—Hengstenburg.
4. Interpreting the promised perpetuity of the Levitical priesthood, Bishop Wordsworth, following Lowth, urges that the ministry of the Christian Church is the complete realisation of all that was done in the offices of the high priests, the priests, and the Levites in the Tabernacle and the Temple. So that the promise here that the Levites will never want a man to stand before God to execute priestly functions, is a declaration that “there shall never fail a succession of men set apart to God’s service to perform the public offices of religion.” Accordingly, Paul proves the rights and privileges belonging to the ministers of the Gospel from the prerogatives given to the Jewish priesthood (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). And Trapp interprets it as meaning “the continuance of an evangelical ministry in the Church to the world’s end” (Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 4:11-13).
5. In proof that these predictions were to have no mere Jewish fulfilment, but point to a dispensation in which national distinctions disappear amid spiritual qualifications and experiences, we have the definite promise that Gentiles are to become priests and Levites. For in the call of the Gentiles there shall be some among them ordained to be ministers in Christ’s Church: “I will also take of them for priests and for Levites” (Isaiah 66:21; see also Isaiah 56:7, Isaiah 61:6; Malachi 1:11; Malachi 3:3).
Jeremiah 33:20-22. Theme: GREAT PROMISES GRANDLY GUARANTEED. “The unchangeableness of God’s laws in nature is the pledge that His promises in grace are equally immutable.”—Dr. Payne Smith.
“The richest promises are confirmed by the strongest assurances.”—Cowles.
“God has hitherto kept promise with nights and days that one shall succeed the other; and will He not keep touch with His people?”—Trapp.
Jeremiah 33:24-26. Theme: SPEAKING CONTEMPTUOUSLY OF GOD’S PEOPLE.
These “two families” are either Israel and Judah; or else “the seed of Jacob” (Jeremiah 33:26) to whom the birthright was given, and the seed of “David” (Jeremiah 33:26) to whom the promise was subsequently confirmed, that of him the Messiah should spring.
Who were they who spake thus of God’s people? Either the Chaldeans without the walls, or the unbelieving Jews within.
I. The utterance of defiance and scorn if from the Chaldeans. They spoke contemptuously of the Hebrews as being abandoned by their God. Implying on the part of Israel’s foes—
1. Exultation over the rejection of God’s people from His care and favour. “Aha, so would we have it!”
2. Execration, expressing their purpose to destroy them. “If it had not been that the Lord was on our side, when men rose up against us, then had they swallowed us up quick.”
3. Contempt. They despised them as a forlorn, friendless, feeble folk. So Sennacherib: “What do these feeble Jews?”
II. The utterance of desolate despair by the Jews themselves. They spoke depreciatingly of themselves and their prospects. Implying on Israel’s part that they were—
1. Paralysed by nearing disaster. The Chaldeans were encroaching on the city; capture was inevitable.
2. Abandonment of all hope in God. He had, as they supposed, now rejected Judah, as already He had Israel.
3. Depreciation of themselves in their relation to God as His covenant people, judging that their national existence was now well-nigh closed.
DIEDRICH comments: “In the first instance they would not be warned; now they will not be comforted. The true prophet, however, announces death to sinners according to the law, but afterwards grace for renovation and for life.
Despair is blasphemy. God’s kingdom stands and will be perfected, but the faint-hearted will not enter it.
God answers, So long as heaven and earth are preserved by Me, it is for the sake of My kingdom, and as a pledge that it will not fail. Israel, or, what is the same thing, David’s seed, shall be a royal seed, and the captivity which the people must now endure is transient. It is impossible, however, for the worldly to understand this, who perish in carnal repose as though no God could punish them; and, again, in affliction are so despondent as though there were no God to help them any more.”
HENRY remarks: “Deep security commonly ends in deep despair; whereas those that keep up a holy fear at all times have a good hope to support them in the worst of times.”
“This is (Jeremiah 33:26) a complex promise,” says Trapp, “and better than money which answereth all things.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 33". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30