Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 33

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 3


Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

IT is curious to observe in what different estimation the same persons are held by their fellow-creatures and by God. We may certainly be allowed to say, that there was not, at the time referred to in our text, a more holy person upon earth than Jeremiah; yet by his countrymen was he held in such abhorrence, as to be deemed worthy only of imprisonment and death. God, on the contrary, honoured him with the highest tokens of his regard. As a friend (so to speak), he repeatedly visited him in prison; he encouraged him to inquire into his most secret counsels, and confided to him the most stupendous mysteries both of his providence and grace.
We need not however confine our attention to Jeremiah: for the words, though primarily addressed to him, may well be applied to all who suffer for righteousness’ sake, and to all who are truly devoted to their God. In this view, they accord with many other passages of Scripture; and contain a most important truth, namely, that prayer is the necessary and effectual moans of obtaining divine knowledge.


It is necessary—

God is always represented as the fountain of light and truth—
[He is “the Father of lights:” and whatever light there is in the whole creation, it is all derived from him. There are indeed amongst us stars of greater and smaller magnitude; but all in themselves are opaque, and destitute of any native lustre: they shine only by a borrowed light, and are glorious only in proportion as they reflect a greater or less portion of Jehovah’s beams. Even whore their knowledge is only in arts and sciences, it must be traced to God as its author; much more must it be so, when it pertains to things which the natural man is not able to receive. “In the hearts of all that are wise-hearted, I have put wisdom [Note: Exodus 31:3; Exodus 31:6.].”]

Those who would obtain knowledge from him must seek it by prayer—
[This is God’s command. He needs not indeed to be prevailed upon by our solicitations, as though he were of himself averse to grant us his blessings; but still it is our duty to pray unto him; and he teaches us to expect his blessings only in the discharge of this duty: “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find:” “If any man luck wisdom, let him ask of God; and it shall be given him.” We are far from saying that prayer is the only mean of obtaining knowledge; for we must read, and meditate, and search after truth, as much as if all depended on our own unaided exertions: but we say, that our exertions without prayer will be of no avail: we must “search for knowledge, as for hid treasures;” but we must also “cry after it, and lift up our voice for understanding:” when we combine the two, “then shall we find the knowledge of God: for the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding [Note: Proverbs 2:1-6.].”]

Nor is this an arbitrary, but a wise and gracious appointment—
[By this means our hearts are prepared for the reception of divine knowledge. If we could obtain it purely by our own study, we should pride ourselves in it, as having made ourselves to differ from those around us: but when we have been made sensible that it is God alone who “openeth the eyes of the understanding,” we learn to acknowledge him in our gifts, and to humble ourselves in proportion to the benefits we have received at his hands. We are stirred up also to improve our knowledge as a talent committed to us, and to diffuse, for the benefit of others, the light with which God has irradiated us.]
As all are invited to ask, so every prayer shall be heard and answered.


It shall be effectual—

The things which God shewed to Jeremiah, related, not merely to the return of the Jews from Babylon, but to Christ and his spiritual kingdom [Note: ver. 14–16.]: and, respecting Christ, “he will shew great and mighty things unto all that ask him.”


To the ignorant—

[Little do the world imagine what great and glorious things are known to those whom they despise; things “which prophets and kings in vain desired to see” and “which angles themselves desire to look into.” It is possible enough that the truths themselves, as a system, may be known to the ungodly: but, in their use, their excellence, their importance, they are known to those only who are taught of God. To these God has revealed the source and depth of their own depravity; the suitableness and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement; the fulness of grace that is treasured up in him; and the blessedness of all those who experience his salvation. These things, “great and mighty” as they are, are brought to their minds “with power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance:” and, by the revelation of them to their souls, they are “made wise unto salvation.”]


To the enlightened—

[It is not at first only that “God brings us into marvellous light:” there is, in the spiritual, as well as the natural world, a progress from the glimmering of the early dawn to the splendour of the noon-day sun. Job had known much of God by the hearing of the ear; but far more when he could say, “Now mine eye seeth thee.” And Moses had bright discoveries of Jehovah on various occasions; but brighter far, when God was pleased to “proclaim to him his name,” and “make all his glory pass before his eyes.” Thus, however advanced the believer may be in knowledge and in grace, there are in God, and in the wonders of his redeeming love, heights and depths and lengths and breadths, of which he has yet no adequate conception. Not that any fresh truths shall be revealed to him, much less any which are not contained in the Holy Scriptures: but the same truths shall be applied to his soul with a clearness and energy vastly surpassing any thing he has before experienced, provided he give himself unto prayer, and wait upon God for the teachings of his Spirit: “The light of the moon shall be to him as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days [Note: Isaiah 30:26.].”]

We shall conclude this subject with a word,

Of reproof—

[Scarcely any subject is so reprobated by ungodly men, as this. They consider the influences of the Holy Spirit as chimerical; and all expectation of answers to prayer, as enthusiastic and absurd. They have never experienced these things themselves; and therefore they suppose that no one else can. But they have never used the means; how then should they attain the end? Suppose a person to affirm, that, with the help of glasses, he could see things invisible to the naked eye: would not any one, refusing to make the experiment, be justly deemed unreasonable, if he denied the possibility of such a thing, and imputed the affirmations of the other to vanity and folly? Every one knows, that objects dimly seen, may be made clearly visible by the use of glasses: and why may not the acquisition of an humble contrite frame be equally useful to the eye of our minds? There is not any one so ignorant, as not to know, how passion and interest distort the objects that are seen through them; and that they who are under their influence, view things very differently from what they appear to an impartial judge. Thus then it is in spiritual things: “whilst the eye is evil, the whole mind is dark; but when it is single, the whole is full of light:” and when God, by removing our earthly and carnal dispositions, presents heavenly objects to the soul in their true character, they shine with a lustre inconceivable to the blind ungodly world. Would any then ascertain whether God will teach his people? let him pray: but let him pray with sincerity, with fervour, and with faith i these are the requisites of effectual prayer [Note: See Psalms 145:18-19. Jeremiah 29:12.James 1:5-7; James 1:5-7.] — — — and prayer thus offered, shall never go forth in vain.]


Of encouragement—

[Many are discouraged because they have not those manifestations of God to their souls, which they have heard, and read of, in the experience of others. But have they mortified their in-dwelling lusts as much as others; and been as constant and importunate in prayer? But be it so: “God gives to every one severally as he will:” yet none shall ever say, that they have sought his face in vain. Our talent may be small; our capacity narrow and contracted: yet have we no cause to despond: for God has said, that “he will reveal to babes and sucklings the things which he has hid from the wise and prudent: and if only we were more conscientious in looking to God for his blessing on the ordinances; if, before we come to them, while we are under them, and after we have returned from them, we were earnest in prayer for the influences of his Spirit; we should not so often return from them empty and unedified. God would hear us, and “would answer us, and would shew us great and mighty things, which we know not.” Our private meditations also on his blessed word would be attended with “an unction which should teach us all things [Note: 1Jn 2:20; 1 John 2:27.].” He would “open our understandings to understand the Scriptures.” “At the very beginning of our supplication” would he send his Holy Spirit to instruct us [Note: Daniel 9:20-23.]; yea, “before we called, God would answer: and while we were yet speaking, he would, hear [Note: Isaiah 65:24.].”]

Verses 6-9


Jeremiah 33:6-9. Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the 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 wilt pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.

THE more fully the subject of the restoration and conversion of the Jews is considered, the more important it will appear. The prophetic writings are full of it; and the obscurity of those writings arises in a great measure from the gross perversion of them, of which even pious ministers have been guilty, through a long succession of ages. Those whose office has been to interpret them, have almost universally applied them spiritually to the Gentiles; overlooking the plain literal meaning of them, as addressed to the Jewish people: and by this means, not only has the attention of the Christian world been drawn from the Jews, but it has been drawn also even from the prophecies themselves, because of the impenetrable veil that has been cast over them.
That the passage before us relates to that subject, no one can entertain a doubt. And that it has never yet been fulfilled, is equally clear; not only because the ten tribes of Israel are combined with Judah, but because the effects which are here announced as to be produced by the event, were never, in any degree, produced by the return of the Jews to Babylon. The different nations of the earth were never led to fear and tremble by reason of the goodness and prosperity which were then procured unto the Jewish nation. We must therefore, of necessity, look forward to a future period for the full accomplishment of this prophecy.
In discoursing on this prophecy, I shall consider,


The event predicted—

Respecting the restoration of the Jews to their own land, I say little; because, though it seems as clearly revealed as any event in all the book of God, there are some who doubt whether the prophecies relating to it are to be understood literally; and because, in labouring for the welfare of that people, we have no respect whatever to any thing but the conversion of their souls to God.
In the passage before us God promises to them,


A discovery of his will—

[In the whole of their civil and ecclesiastical polity, they are in the state described by the Prophet Isaiah; “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint: from the sole of the foot even to the head there is so soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores [Note: Isaiah 1:5-6.].” But God promises here, that he will “restore health unto them, and cure them, by revealing unto them the abundance of peace and truth.”

To enter fully into the meaning of these words, we must bear in mind, that, in the writings of Moses, the way of salvation is revealed only under types and shadows; and that, even by the strictest observance of them, “the Jews could not be made perfect as pertaining to the conscience [Note: Hebrews 9:9.]:” consequently, under existing circumstances, when they are precluded from a possibility of observing the law, they cannot by any means obtain rest unto their souls. They cannot by repentance; because rivers of tears could never wash away one sin. They cannot by good works; for their best works are imperfect, and can never atone for sin, and purchase an eternity of bliss. And, as for any rites prescribed by their Rabbins, in addition to the Mosaic Ritual, they are held, as the superstitious ordinances of the Pharisees were, in utter abhorrence by Almighty God. All the Rabbins in the universe, therefore, cannot tell an afflicted and tempest-tossed Jew how he may obtain peace with God and in his own conscience. But when God shall take away the veil that is on the hearts of that people, “he will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” He will shew them, that every shadow in their law is derived from Christ, who is the substance. Had they a temple, an altar, a high-priest, a sacrifice, a sanctuary? These are all contained in Christ, who is the one great sacrifice for sin, the priest that offers it, the altar on which it is presented, the sanctuary “in which dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” and in which it comes up with acceptance before God. There is not any single ordinance, or even a vessel in the sanctuary, which was not intended to shadow him forth, and with which he does not, in some respect or other, correspond: so perfectly did Moses execute the divine command, “in making every thing according to the pattern shewn to him in the mount.” This being discovered to the Jews by the clear light of the Gospel, they will see “an abundance of truth;” such as we, who are little conversant with the law, have scarcely any conception of. And from the fulness of Christ, so richly displayed before them, they will have “a peace which passeth all understanding,” yea, such “an abundance of peace,” that it will “flow down like a river.” All that can disturb their minds shall be put far from them by the discovery of Christ. Are they oppressed with guilt, and apprehensive of punishment? They shall see that he has by the one offering of himself upon the cross, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for sin, and completely reconciled them to their offended God. Do they feel their need, of a perfect righteousness wherein to stand before God? They shall see that he has wrought out a righteousness for them by his own obedience unto death; and that “that righteousness shall be unto all, and upon all, who believe in him.” In a word, they shall see in him an accomplishment of what the prophet Daniel has foretold:“He shall finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in for his believing people everlasting righteousness [Note: Daniel 9:24.].” And, in the view of these things, they shall “rejoice in him with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.”]


A manifestation of his favour—

[God promises in my text, and again in ver. 11, “to build them as at the first.” This necessarily carries us back to the time when he redeemed them out of Egypt, and “brought them forth with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm.” Let us call to mind all the wonders that were then wrought in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the Wilderness; let us remember how God went before them in the pillar and the cloud; how ho fed them with manna from heaven, and with water from the flinty rock; how he appeared to them on Mount Sinai, and gave to them his law; how he protected them from every enemy, and brought them in safety to the promised land; how he subdued before them seven nations, greater and mightier than they; and, above all, how he dwelt in his sanctuary, and manifested to them his favour, so as he never had done to any people upon earth: let us call all this to mind, and then we snail have some faint conception of the blessings which he has in reserve for his outcast people. I doubt not, but that, in a temporal view, as far as similar interpositions shall be found necessary for them, they shall experience them at the hands of God [Note: Isaiah 11:16.]: but in a spiritual view, I am perfectly sure that none of these things shall be wanting unto them: they shall be delivered from their spiritual bondage; they shall “eat of Christ, who is the spiritual meat, and drink of that spiritual drink, even of that rock which will follow them, which is Christ Jesus [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:3-4.];” and at last have an abundant entrance ministered unto them into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Peter 1:11.].” We may stretch out our imaginations to the uttermost, and grasp all that was ever done for that people in the days of old; and we may be sure that it shall all be renewed to them in the latter clay with ten-fold advantage [Note: Jeremiah 30:18-20.]: “that nation shall then sing as in the days of her youth, when she came up out of the land of Egypt [Note: Hosea 2:15.].”]


A communication of his grace—

[What is there that any sinner in the universe can need? That shall, in the richest abundance, be imparted unto them. Do they need “the pardon of their iniquities?” So fully shall it be vouchsafed, that “all their sins shall be cast into the depths of the sea;” not into the shallows, from whence they might be brought again; but into the depths, where they shall never again be found [Note: Compare Micah 7:19. with Jeremiah 50:20.]. Do they need the renovation of their natures after the Divine image? This also shall be vouchsafed unto them; for, not in my text only, but in numberless passages of the prophetic writings, does God promise to them tins inestimable blessing [Note: Jeremiah 32:36-42.]. Thus fully to this purpose speaks the Prophet Ezekiel: “I will take you from among the Heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then (N. B. then) will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes; and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them [Note: Ezekiel 36:24-27.]. In a word, nothing shall be wanting to the completion of their happiness; “their cup shall be full, and overflow” with joy.]

From the event itself, let us proceed to consider,


The vast importance of It—

If we were to contemplate only the happiness of that people, the temporal, spiritual, eternal happiness of millions living, and of millions arising in every successive age, methinks we should need no more to mark the importance of the event that is here predicted. But we are content to wave the contemplation of this part of our subject altogether, and to limit our views to the points more especially referred to in our text. Mark,


The interest which God himself has in it—

[God says of it, “It shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them.” Of course, when we speak of God rejoicing in it, we merely accommodate ourselves to the language of Scripture, in which God condescends to speak after the manner of men; in order that by conveying to our minds such ideas as we are able to comprehend, he may produce on us such impressions as the subject calls for. Behold, then, to God it will be a source of joy; and in him will be realized the description of the Father in the Parable, receiving, and rejoicing over, his repentant son. Hear how the prophet represents this matter: “Be ye glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy, And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying [Note: Isaiah 65:18-19. See also Zephaniah 3:17.]. So also, in another place, in yet stronger terms: “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For, as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons (thy restorers) marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee [Note: Isaiah 62:4-5.].” Moreover, this event will greatly tend to the honour of God. His power and goodness are seen by all people, in the works of creation: but in the restoration of his outcast people, his glory will shine forth as in its meridian splendour, before all the nations of the earth. It will be seen of all; because, the Jews being dispersed over all the world, and the motion amongst them being simultaneous throughout the earth, the attention of all will be fixed upon them, and the glory of God appear upon them. In that event shall all his perfections shine forth; and especially his mercy and love, his truth and faithfulness. Greatly as he was magnified in their deliverance from Egypt, he will be far more exalted in that day; because the work will be infinitely more extensive, and the effects produced upon them be incomparably more glorious. For in that day, “the people shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever; the branch of his planting, the work of his hands, that he may be glorified [Note: Isaiah 60:20-21; Isaiah 61:1-3.].” In a fore-cited chapter, this is very strongly and beautifully marked. Of all that a king possesses, there is nothing so dear to him, nothing with which his honour is so intimately connected, as his crown; yet such shall the Jewish people be, in the estimation of their God: “Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God [Note: Isaiah 62:3.].” Yes, he will hold them forth before the whole world, as the dearest objects of his love, and the brightest monuments of his glory.]


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 coming out of Egypt, was somewhat of this effect produced on the surrounding nations [Note: Exodus 15:15-16.]: and amongst those who shall desire to retain them in bondage, will the same terror prevail, at the period that we are now contemplating. “According to the clays of thy coming out of the land of Egypt,” says God, “will I shew unto him marvellous things. The nations shall see, and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth; their ears shall be deaf: they shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee [Note: Micah 7:15-17.].” But on immense multitudes will a far different effect be produced: they, indeed, shall “fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that God hath procured unto his people;” but it will be with a holy, reverential fear, such as that which is invariably signified by those words in the epistles of the New Testament, even such as is imported in that injunction, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Yes, in every place will this effect be produced. It will not merely attract the attention of the whole world, but will create within them a desire to know and serve that God who has done such things for them. In every place will the beholders be filled with wonder; and with the deepest conviction will cry out, as the worshippers of Baal did before them, “The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God!” Then will be fulfilled what the Prophet Zechariah has spoken: “Ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you [Note: Zechariah 8:23.].” To this event St. Paul evidently refers, when he says, “If the fall of the Jews be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead [Note: Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15.]?”

Now, let the restoration of the Jews be considered in this light; and what shall we think of it, or what terms shall we ever find whereby to express its inconceivable importance? Surely we are highly culpable in this matter, we do not study the Holy Scriptures in reference to this event; and, when we meet with it, we pass it over without any serious reflection, or accommodate it to ourselves as the only persons interested in it. But is this right? Should we be so indifferent to the welfare of God’s ancient people? or, if we account that of so little consequence, should we be regardless of the honour, and, if I may so express myself, the very happiness of God? And should the conversion and salvation of the whole world be of so little value in our eyes? I call you, Brethren, to blush and be confounded, because of your past insensibility; and now to rise, as fellow-workers with God, to the performance of your duty,]

But, that I may improve the subject for the good of all, I would entreat you to take occasion from it to consider—

What blessings you yourselves enjoy—

[It is said, “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ [Note: John 1:17.].” Hence it appears, that if you are believers in Christ, these blessings are already yours: you are “brought nigh to God,” having been rescued from the sorest bondage: and through a discovery of Christ, as revealed in the Gospel, you enjoy in your souls “an abundance of peace,” and joy, and holiness, and, by anticipation at least, of glory also. You are shining as lights in a dark world; and are a source both of joy and honour to your God, and of conviction and consolation to those around you. In you, the millennial period is, as it were, begun. O, rejoice ye, and shout for joy; and endeavour, in every possible way, to glorify the God of your salvation — — —]


What reason you have to seek the welfare of your Jewish brethren—

[Behold with what glorious consequences it will be followed! Though, for argument sake, I have waved all consideration of the Jews themselves, methinks you will not agree to dismiss them from your minds. The recollection of what their ancestors, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself, have done for you, will never suffer you to be indifferent about the salvation of their souls. But, if we could suppose such a malignant disposition in you towards that unhappy people, shall the glory of God and the salvation of the whole world have no effect upon you? I call you then, every one of you, to exert yourselves, in whatever way the Lord may enable you, for the restoration of his outcast people. Make known to them the Gospel, whereby all other blessings shall How down into their souls; and, as they are the appointed reapers of the Gentile world, go forth to hire them for the work; that, as their ancestors reaped the first-fruits, these may be the happy means of gathering in the whole harvest.]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 33". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.