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God sheweth Jeremiah the return of the Jews. After their trouble they shall have deliverance: he comforteth Jacob. Their return shall be gracious. Wrath shall fall on the wicked.
Before Christ 606.
THERE are many prophesies in various parts of the Old Testament, which announce the future restoration of Israel to their own land, and the complete re-establishment of both their civil and religious constitution in the latter days, meaning the times of the Gospel dispensation. These two chapters contain a prophesy of this kind, which must necessarily be referred to those times, because it points out circumstances which certainly were not fulfilled at the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, nor have hitherto had their completion. For the people who returned from Babylon were chiefly, if not entirely, the people of Judah and Benjamin only, who had been carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar; but here it is foretold, that not the captivity of Judah only should be restored, but the captivity of Israel also, meaning those ten tribes that were carried away before by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, and who still remain in their several dispersions, having never returned, in a national capacity at least, to their own land, whatever some few individuals have done. But the terms of the prophesy entitle us to expect, not an obscure and partial, but a complete and universal restoration, when God will manifest himself, as formerly, the God and patron of all the families of Israel, and not of a few only. Again, it is promised, that after this restoration they should no more fall under the dominion of foreigners, but be governed by princes and magistrates of their own nation, independent of any but God and David their king. But this was not the case with the Jews who returned from Babylon. They then indeed had a leader, Zerubbabel, one of their own nation, and also of the family of David. But both the nation and their leader continued still in a state of vassalage and the most servile dependence upon the Persian monarchy. And when the Grecian monarchy succeeded, they changed their masters only, not their condition; till at length, under the Asmonaean princes, they had for a while an independent government of their own, but without any title to the name of David. At last they fell under the Roman yoke, since which time their situation has been such, as not to afford the least ground to pretend, that the promised restoration has yet taken place. It remains therefore to be brought about in future, under the reign of the Messiah, emphatically distinguished by the name of David; when every particular circumstance predicted concerning it will, no doubt, be verified by a distinct and unequivocal accomplishment.
There is no particular date annexed to this prophesy, whereby to ascertain the precise time of its delivery. But it may not unreasonably be presumed to have followed immediately after the preceding one, in which the restoration of the people from their Babylonish captivity is in direct terms foretold. Hence the transition is natural and easy to the more glorious and general restoration, which was to take place in a more distant period, and was designed for the ultimate object of the national hopes and expectations. Both events are frequently thus connected together in the prophetic writings, and perhaps with this design, that when that which was nearest at hand should be accomplished, it might afford the strongest and most satisfactory kind of evidence, that the latter, how remote soever its period, would in like manner be brought about by the interposition of Jehovah in its due season.
But though this prophesy relates wholly to one single subject, it seems naturally to divide itself into three distinct parts. The first part, after a short preface, in which the prophet is required to commit to writing the matters revealed to him, commences with representing, in a style of awe and energy, the consternation and distress which in some future day of visitation should fall upon all nations, preparatory to the scene of Jacob's deliverance, Jeremiah 29:5-9. Israel is encouraged to confide in the divine assurances of restoration and protection, Jeremiah 29:10-11. He is prepared previously to expect a severe chastisement for the multitude of his sins, but consoled with the prospect of a happy termination, Jeremiah 29:12-17. This is followed by an enumeration at large of the blessings and privileges to which the Jews should be restored upon their re-admission into God's favour, Jeremiah 29:18-22. Again however it is declared, that the anger of JEHOVAH would not subside, till his purposed vengeance against the wicked should have been fully executed, and then, but not till then, an entire reconciliation would take place between him and all the families of Israel, Jer 29:23 to Jeremiah 31:1.
The second part of this prophesy begins chap. Jer 31:2 and is marked by a sudden transition to a distant period of time, represented in a vision, and embellished with a variety of beautiful scenes and images. God announces the renewal of his ancient love for Israel, and promises them in consequence thereof a speedy restoration of their former privileges and happiness, Jeremiah 31:2-5. Already the heralds have proclaimed on mount Ephraim the arrival of the joyful day; they summon the people to re-assemble once more in Zion; and promulge by special command the glad tidings of salvation which God had accomplished for them. God himself declares his readiness to conduct home the remnant of Israel from all parts of their dispersion, to compassionate and relieve their infirmities, and to provide them with all necessary accommodations by the way, Jeremiah 31:6-9. The news is carried into distant lands, and the nations are summoned to attend to the display of God's power and goodness, in rescuing his people from their stronger enemies, and in supplying them after their return with all manner of good things, to the full extent of their wants and desires, Jeremiah 31:10-14.
Here the scene changes, and two new personages are successively introduced, in order to diversify the same subject, and to impress it more strongly. Rachel first; who is represented as just risen from her grave, and bitterly bewailing the loss of her children, for whom she looks about her in vain, for none are to be seen. Her tears are dried up, and she is consoled with the assurance that they are not lost for ever, but shall in time be brought back to their ancient borders, Jeremiah 31:15-17.
Ephraim comes next. He laments his past undutifulness with great contrition and penitence, and professes an earnest desire of amendment. These symptoms of returning duty are no sooner discerned in him, than God acknowledges him once more as a darling child, and resolves with mercy to receive him, Jeremiah 31:18-20.
The virgin of Israel is then earnestly exhorted to hasten the preparations for her return, and encouraged with the prospect of having a signal miracle wrought in her favour, Jeremiah 31:21-22. And the vision closes at last with a promise, that the divine blessing should again rest upon the land of Judah, and that the men of Judah should once more dwell there, cultivating it according to the simplicity of ancient institutions, and fully discharged from every want, Jeremiah 31:23-26.
In the third part, by way of appendix to the Vision, the following gracious promises are specifically annexed: That God would in time to come supply all the deficiencies of Israel and Judah; and would be as diligent to restore, as he had ever been to destroy them; and would not any more visit the offences of the fathers upon the children, Jeremiah 31:27-30. That he would make with them a better covenant than he had made with their forefathers, Jeremiah 31:31-32. That they should continue a nation by an ordinance as firm and lasting as that of the heavens, that is to say, they should never be dispersed again, Jer 31:35-37 and that Jerusalem should again be built, enlarged in its extent, and secure from future desolation, Jeremiah 31:30-32.
Jeremiah 30:2. Write thee all the words, &c.— See ch. Jeremiah 36:1-2.
Jeremiah 30:3. For, lo, the days come— Though the prophesy in this chapter contains many circumstances which refer to the return of the Jews from Babylon, yet there are many others, which so suit the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of his church, particularly in the last days, that there is no giving them literally any other sense; and even the clearest and most express prophesies for the deliverance from Babylon, are very naturally to be explained of Jesus Christ and his faithful followers, and the final return of the Jews.
Jeremiah 30:6. Ask ye now, &c.— "Is it usual for men to be with child, and to suffer the pangs of travail? Whence then do I see you, Chaldeans and Babylonians, in a similar posture?" The prophet uses this figure, to represent the fear of the Babylonians, and their extreme surprise, when the forces of the Medes and Persians should come upon them. The next verse refers to the same. But though it was a time of trouble to the Babylonians, and to the Jews, as connected with them; yet were the latter saved out of it. Cyrus, in the first year of his reign over Babylon, gave them liberty to return to their own country.
Jeremiah 30:8. And strangers, &c.— And they shall no more serve him among strangers. This prophesy has not yet received its full accomplishment; for, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, they were again reduced to servitude by the Greeks and Romans; and at present there is no place in the world where they can be said to enjoy perfect liberty. See Lowth and Calmet.
Jeremiah 30:9. They shall serve the Lord—and David— In this place, in Eze 34:23-24 and in Hosea 3:5. David signifies the Messiah. The Targum uses the word Messiah in this very passage, instead of David; and the Talmud, Sanhed. 11: sect. 36 proves from Ezekiel that David is the name of the Messiah; which Kimchi likewise, asserts. The prophets above cited lived long after David; and yet they prophesy of a future king, who is indeed the Messiah in the judgment of all the Jews of note, but called by the name of David, because represented in and by David: for the name of David was not communicated to the Messiah as being the son of David, for then Solomon, or some other of David's race, would have been called by his name also; but, none of his children being called so, except the Messiah, it may be concluded that the name was not appropriated to him, in respect of his descent from David, but for being typified in David; and so, as is usual, to make the resemblance more plain between the type and the ante-type, the Messiah is described under the name of the person representing him; as David is on the other hand termed the Son of God, the first-born, from bearing the person of the Messiah, who was truly called so. When the Messiah, therefore, is called David, and the son of Jesse, it is because he was typified in David: when he is spoken of as the son of David, or under the name and description of Solomon, it is upon the presumption that Christ was signified in the son of David, so solemnly promised to him by Nathan. We may likewise observe, that persons resembling others in qualities, office, or actions, are described in the prophets by the name of those whom they resemble. The Messiah is promised to come, by the name of David; and yet no Jew ever expected that David should return to the earth bodily, or the Messiah be the person of David. Zadok the high-priest and his sons in David's time, 1 Chronicles 6:31; 1Ch 6:49 are recorded by the name of Aaron and his sons, because they succeeded in Aaron's office, and performed the functions of the high-priesthood. Nay, Elijah himself is called Phinehas by the Jews, because they both resembled each other in their zeal. See Bishop Chandler's Defence. We cannot have a stronger instance of the fallacy of the human judgment, than that a man of Grotius's learning and discernment should sit down to shew that Zerubbabel is meant by David in this place.
Jeremiah 30:12. Thy bruise is incurable— That is, "By all human means, and therefore I will work the greater miracle, and restore health to thee:" Jeremiah 30:17. Houbigant renders it, Thy bruise is deadly; and so in the 15th verse.
Jeremiah 30:15. Why criest thou?— Why criest thou over thy affliction, thy incurable sorrow? it is for the greatness of thy iniquity, and because thy sins were increased, that I have done these things unto thee: Jeremiah 30:16 yet surely all they, &c. "The Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Edomites, and others, who have afflicted, oppressed, and persecuted you, shall be devoured and extirpated, while you shall be re-established." The Assyrians, who opposed Israel and Judah, were so destroyed by the Babylonians and Medes, that mention is no more made of their empire. The monarchy of the Chaldeans was overthrown by the Persians, and never recovered itself. The empire of the Egyptians and Persians was destroyed by Alexander. But the Jewish people, who appeared as it were extinct, and annihilated in their dispersion, re-appeared on a sudden, and sprung again as it were from their own ashes, to become as numerous and as powerful as ever. The prophets frequently denounce against these nations the menaces which we read here. See chap. Jeremiah 25:14.Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 49:19. Zephaniah 2:0 and Calmet.
Jeremiah 30:18. And have mercy on his dwelling-places— On his tabernacles; which corresponds to the former clause. The expressions allude to the ancient manner of dwelling in tents; and though they may be understood metaphorically, yet were they in some measure fulfilled under Zerubbabel. See Houbigant.
Jeremiah 30:21. And their nobles shall be of themselves— And their prince or mighty one shall be for themselves. Houbigant. The Messiah seems plainly marked out by the two names of Mighty One and Governor in this verse, and so the Targum understands it. I will cause him to draw near, &c. says the Lord; that is to say, "He shall have a near attendance upon me, for I will make him a priest as well as a king;" according to that prophesy in Psalms 110:0. For who is this that engaged his heart, &c.? "Who is there so entirely devoted to my service as the Messiah?" The words זה הוא מי mi hu zeh,—who is this, have an emphasis in the original, which cannot be expressed in another language, and are spoken by way of admiration. Houbigant renders the clause, For who will have confidence in his heart to approach unto me? Cyrus in his edict seems to have had this place in view. See Ezra 1:3.
Jeremiah 30:24. In the latter days ye shall consider it— Ye shall consider and understood it. This and the preceding verse are found in chap. Jeremiah 23:19-20. The latter days may signify the time to come; but they commonly imply the times under the gospel, as being the last dispensation, and what should continue to the end of the world. In this sense the words import, "When all these evils are come upon you, which God hath threatened for your disobedience, and particularly for your heinous crime in rejecting the Messiah, and you have found the denunciations verified in the several captivities that you have undergone, then you will understand the import of this and several other prophesies, and the event will perfectly instruct you in their meaning." See Lowth and Houbigant.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, To perpetuate the memory of the great and gracious promises, God commands the prophet to write in a book all the words that he had spoken to him; either all the preceding prophesies, or those which he had now spoken to him, relative to the enlargement of the Jews from their captivity, and the coming of the Messiah; and this to support the faith and hope of the people of God, both of Israel and Judah.
1. They are represented as under the greatest terror and distress. It was a strange sight, but descriptive of the acuteness of their pains, to behold the men of war, like women in travail, with their hands on their loins, trembling, pallid, and crying out in their pangs, Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it, so terrible and afflictive; and this may refer to the destruction of the Jews by the Chaldeans, or to their more terrible desolations by the Romans: and some suppose, that it has a farther respect even to the reign of Antichrist, when the witnesses should be slain, and the church of Christ reduced to great distress.
2. The prophet must write a word of comfort for that gloomy and dark day. Though it is the time of Jacob's trouble, he shall be saved out of it; God will stand by his suffering people, and rescue them from the hands of their enemies. He will break their yoke, deliver them from the Babylonish chains, or rather from their present state of bondage, when strangers in all nations whither they are dispersed shall no more serve themselves of them, oppress and harass them no more; or, best of all, from the bondage of sin and Satan, their unbelief and impenitence, when they shall be turned unto the Lord, and serve the Lord their God, and David their king; which has certainly a farther view than to the restoration of the temple-service, and to the governors who presided over them after the captivity in Babylon—even to the adored Messiah, David's son, raised up to sit on his throne; and David's Lord, whose divine character they should acknowledge, submit to his government, and join with his church in his worship; whom I will raise up unto them; God, according to his promises, having constituted him to be a prince and saviour, to whom every knee must bow, and whom every tongue must confess. Note; They who take Christ for their king are bound to prove their professions by their fidelity. Loyalty consists not in words but deeds.
2nd, When God visits his people, he still in wrath remembers mercy.
1. Their state appears very deplorable; yea, to human view, utterly desperate; their bruise incurable, their wound grievous, so that all restoration was despaired of; God himself seemed to be their enemy, their cruel enemy. So severe, so long continued were the strokes of his judgments upon them; they had not a friend in their troubles to plead for them, either with God or man; or so much as a kind hand stretched out to bind up their gaping wounds, or administer the healing medicine of consolation or advice. Their lovers, the neighbouring nations who courted them in their prosperity, deserted them in the day of their distress, and looked upon their case as desperate, regarding Zion as an outcast, whom no man seeketh after, abandoned to destruction; all which extorted from them bitter complaints; not that they had any cause to charge God as severe; for, because of the multitude of their iniquities and their aggravated sins, had these visitations been sent upon them, and their sufferings were less than they deserved; for, heavy as the visitation seemed to them, God corrected them in measure, and for their good, that he might not leave them altogether unpunished; as a father chastising them, that they might be reformed, and not ruined. Note; (1.) In our sufferings we are too apt to call the rod of a father the chastisement of a cruel one. (2.) Sin has a mortal sting; and none but God can heal the guilty soul. (3.) Whatever burden God lays upon us, we are bound to acknowledge it less than our iniquity has deserved. (4.) When the sinner is reduced to the depths of self-despair, then is the time when God magnifies the riches of his grace in his salvation.
2. The Lord declares his purpose of mercy towards them. Desperate as their case seemed, both from their sins and sufferings, God bids them not fear, nor be dismayed; he owns them still as his servants, and engages to save them, if they will return to him. Though far dispersed in distant lands, he will bring them back, and give them, for all the wars and tumults with which they had been harassed, peace and quiet in their own land; which seems more applicable to their last recovery, when they shall be gathered into the gospel church, than to their return from Babylon, when their settlement met with many obstructions. As for their enemies, God threatens to destroy them utterly; but adds, Though I will make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: the mightiest monarchies have been long since utterly subverted, and all other nations, among whom they had been captives, devoured, destroyed, and incorporated with their conquerors; but to this hour we see the people of the Jews as much a distinct and separate people, as if they had been still shut up from all other nations in their own land, preserved for the promised mercy: and, notwithstanding all their sins and dire calamities, God promises, in a national view, to pardon the one and heal the other; to restore their health, and heal their wounds; bringing them into a state of temporal prosperity, and saving those who will accept of the offers of his gospel from the power of corruption; converting their souls, and causing them to partake of all the blessings of his spiritual kingdom in Christ Jesus. Note; (1.) No sinner's case is so far gone, as to be past the divine physician's ability to cure. (2.) They who believe God's promises, will be delivered from distressing fears. (3.) The present state of the Jewish people is a great and constant evidence of the inspiration of the prophetic word.
3rdly, The same subject is pursued, and the promises delivered have a twofold respect:
1. To the return of the Jews from Babylon. Then their city should be rebuilt on the same spot, the temple raised from its ashes, the sacred festivals be restored, their numbers be multiplied, their nation be respected, their children be playing in the streets in peace, their congregation at the temple undisturbed, their oppressors punished; their rulers, of themselves, not strangers; their governor one of their own nation, appointed of God, accepted of him, a pattern of devotion and piety to his subjects. The covenant of national peculiarity shall be re-established, God again the God of Judah, and they his peculiar people as a nation; whilst all the wicked, who had persecuted them, shall be swept away as with a whirlwind, through the fierce anger of the Lord, which shall not return until he have done it, fully established his people in their own land, and destroyed their foes.
2. To their return to the church of God from their present dispersion; and this seems chiefly intended.
[1.] They shall be recovered from their captivity. Some suppose, literally, that they shall be collected in Judaea (which is my own opinion), and that the city of Jerusalem shall be rebuilt in all its former magnificence; however, they shall come into the church of Christ, the city of the living God, the spiritual Jerusalem, and the voice of thanksgiving for gospel-grace shall sound louder than the songs which accompanied the sacred festivals.
[2.] Their numbers will be great in the day of their conversion, and a most glorious appearance will they make, when they shall be rapidly brought to the faith of the Gospel, and a nation be born in a day. At that day the children of the church shall be multiplied in a more astonishing manner than at the first preaching of the Gospel, and no more persecuting powers remain to disturb the congregation of the saints.
[3.] They will then be brought to know and acknowledge the true Messiah. His noble one, his glorious, or mighty one, as the word may be rendered, shall be of themselves; and their governor, the Prince of Peace, able to save and to destroy, shall proceed from the midst of them, rise up from the stock of Israel; I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me as Mediator between God and man, appointed to be the friend and advocate of his faithful people, and ever living in heaven to make intercession for them, in consequence of his having engaged his heart to God, to draw near to him by an obedience to death, even the death of the cross. And this may well deserve a note of admiration, Who is this! This is Jesus, by whom lost souls are restored to the favour of the justly-offended Jehovah, and he becomes their God, and they his people, which will be the case with the Jews at the latter day.
[4.] All the wicked will be cut off; they who will not submit to the Messiah's government, must perish under his wrath terrible and irresistible, which sinners will be made to feel, if not before, at least at the great day of his appearing and glory; and then it will be too late to consider, when wrath comes upon them to the uttermost: or, in the latter days ye shall. consider it, shall see this prophesy accomplished, all the purposes of God's love to his faithful people, and of wrath to his enemies, fully performed.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 30". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17