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God promiseth to the captivity a gracious return, a joyful state, a settled government, Christ, the branch of righteousness, a continuance of kingdom and priesthood, and a stability of a blessed seed.
Before Christ 589.
THIS chapter contains a prophesy, which, though applicable in some parts to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, cannot however be so understood upon the whole, for reasons already touched upon in the introductory note to chap. 30: and which hold equally good in the present instance. God reveals his gracious purpose of healing the wounds of Jerusalem, restoring the captivity both of Israel and Judah, forgiving their sins, and distinguishing them with such blessings, as to strike the astonished nations with fear and trembling, Jeremiah 32:1-9. He foretels, that the land, whose desolation they deplored, should again flourish with multitudes both of men and cattle; Jeremiah 32:10-13. He confirms his former promise of establishing a kingdom of righteousness in a branch of the house of David, and rendering it perpetual, together with the priesthood of the sons of Levi; Jeremiah 32:14-18. He declares his covenant in this respect with David and the Levites to be as sure as the covenant of night and day; Jeremiah 32:19-22. And to remove the reproach of having cast off those families, whom he had once distinguished by his choice, he renews his protestations of restoring the seed of Jacob, and of appointing the seed of David to rule over them for ever; Jer 32:23—to the end.
Jeremiah 33:2. The maker thereof— Who made the earth. Houbigant.
Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me— The spirit of prophesy commonly came upon the prophets in such a manner that they could not resist its impressions. At other times they prayed for, they earnestly requested, the influence of the Spirit: Daniel intreated the Lord to give him the explanation of his visions. See Daniel 9:2-4; Daniel 10:3-11. Houbigant reads it, Inquire of me, and I will answer thee.
Jeremiah 33:4. Which are thrown down by the mounts— Which are thrown down for the raising of mounts; Jeremiah 33:5 and to give space for those who are about to come to fight with the Chaldeans; and to fill up the number of the dead bodies of men, &c. Houbigant. Others read—Mounts, and by the sword of the Chaldeans, coming to fight, and to kill them.
Jeremiah 33:6. Behold, &c.— Behold, I will bring them, &c. "I will restore them to their wonted prosperity; I will re-establish their walls; I will repair their breaches."
Jeremiah 33:8. And I will cleanse them— "I will no more remember their iniquity, or the iniquity of their fathers; their captivity, and the evils which they have endured, shall be under my grace a kind of baptism to purify them." But, as Houbigant well observes, God will then only pardon all the iniquities of the Jews when they enter into the Christian church, and then the nations shall be astonished: see the next verse; where, instead of, They shall fear and tremble, he reads, They shall wonder and be astonished; and instead of it in that verse, they and them.
Jeremiah 33:11. Praise the Lord, &c.— By referring to Ezr 3:11 you will find that the Jews, on their return from captivity, made use of this hymn.
Jeremiah 33:13. Shall the flocks pass again, &c.— See Leviticus 27:32. Virgil alludes to the same custom when he says, Bis die numerant ambo pecus: "Twice each day they count my goats and sheep." Eclogue 3: The Chaldee explains the phrase of the Messiah: "My people shall be instructed and formed under the hand of the Messiah." See Calmet.
Jeremiah 33:15-16. In those days, &c.— See the note on chap. Jeremiah 23:6. Many commentators render the last clause of the 16th verse thus, And this is he that shall proclaim to her, or, And he that shall call her, is the Lord, &c. Such qualities are given to the person here called the Branch, as can belong to no other than Jesus Christ the Son of David, the first-born of the Father. See the 17th and 18th verses.
Jeremiah 33:17. David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne, &c.— Or rather, There shall not be a failure in the line of David of one sitting, &c. From the Babylonish captivity to the coming of Christ, David was without a successor of his family sitting upon the throne of Judah or Israel, in any sense whatsoever. And from the destruction of Jerusalem to the present time, the Jews have had neither a king nor a regular priesthood belonging to their nation. So that hitherto there has been a failure and interruption both in the royal line of David, and in the sacerdotal one of Levi. A plain proof that the prophesy alludes not to any time that is already past, but respects what is to come. It is true indeed, that in a spiritual sense the kingdom of Christ, the son of David, has been for some time established over those whom the Apostle calls the Israel of God, Gal 6:16 and the children of Abraham, Gal 3:7 meaning thereby all true believers, whether of the Jews or of the Gentiles. And it is true also, that in the church of Christ there has been a constant and uninterrupted succession of persons to perform the public offices of religion in the room of, although not taken out of, the priests the Levites. And the perpetuity of this kingdom and this ministry is, I know, in the opinion of many learned expositors, looked upon as a full and authentic completion of the intention of this prophesy. This, however, seems to be spiritualizing too far, when the case admits of a more direct and literal interpretation. The days, it is evident, are not yet arrived, though they certainly will come, for the performance of God's good promise concerning the restoration of the house of Israel and the house of Judah under Christ, THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Admitting this, and that all the families of Israel shall again be re-established in their own possessions, what improbability is there, that the two families of David and Levi may actually revert also to their ancient privileges, subject only to the supreme authority of the Messiah, and continue to enjoy them, as it is here expressly declared, in uninterrupted succession to the end of the world?
Jeremiah 33:24. The two families— The Jews indirectly accuse God of breach of promise, in saying that he had rejected the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; which made the whole race of Jacob: others understand the tribes of Judah and Levi. The Lord fully answers this objection in the subsequent verses.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jeremiah still continued under confinement, but God's visits made the prophet's prison a more desirable place than the palace of Zedekiah. The second time a message of peace is sent by him to encourage the drooping hopes of the people, ready to fall under their enemies, and sink into despair.
1. The prophesy is from the Lord, whose power is able to accomplish all his promises; the maker and former of the earth, and of all things therein. Jehovah is his name, self-sufficient, and faithful to his word.
2. Though God promises, the prophet must in prayer intercede for the fulfilment. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, for promises do not supersede but encourage our supplications; and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not; either the strange deliverance of the people from Babylon, when their situation seemed desperate, an event which no human foresight could discover; or the greater wonders of gospel-grace, of which this temporal redemption was the figure.
3. Notwithstanding their present miseries, their houses, even those of their kings and nobles, battered down; their auxiliaries, or the besieged, slain under the ruins; or the houses which remained, filled, through famine and pestilence, with the dead corpses of those who were slain in God's anger because of their wickedness; yet, deplorable as their situation is, it is not desperate: Behold, I will bring it health and cure, restore their desolations; I will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth; peace to enjoy their blessings, and truth, the true worship of God and fidelity between man and man restored: and I will cause the captivity of Judah and Israel to return; many of the other tribes returning to Judaea with those of Judah and Benjamin; and I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, the cause of their sufferings; both pardoning their guilt, and delivering them from the power of sin. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations; God would glorify himself in shewing them such mercy, which would be attended with the most blessed effects; their prosperity not breeding security and neglect of God, but engaging them more faithfully to serve him, and making them jealous of offending a God so gracious. And this was still more eminently fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah; who, as the Sun of Righteousness, arose with healing in his wings; peace was established by him between God and fallen man, and abundance of peace diffused in the sinner's conscience. Truth, the only true way of approaching God, and walking so as to please him, was by him revealed; then the dreadful captivity of sin was loosed, and the souls of men delivered from the bondage of corruption. In a dying Saviour's blood a fountain was opened, that cleanseth from all sin; and, now rescued from the power, as well as guilt of their iniquities, the people of Jesus appear pleasing in his sight, an honour to their profession, and engaged, by all the goodness that they have tasted, with godly jealousy and fear to work out their salvation, diligent to please, and careful not to offend their merciful Saviour and reconciled God. Blessed and happy are they who experience this great redemption, begun in present pardon, peace, grace, and holiness; these pious souls, faithful unto death, shall see it shortly completed in glory everlasting.
2nd, We have farther blessings promised to the people of God.
1. The voice of joy shall return to Zion. The desolations under which it had lain, made many abandon themselves to despair of ever seeing the country raised from its ruins; but God will again replenish Jerusalem and the cities of Judah with multitudes of inhabitants; then the bridal music shall be heard, and the more delightful sounds of sacred melody echo through the courts of the temple; when this fresh instance of his astonishing goodness would make them with sacred rapture repeat the well-known psalm, where the burden of each verse is, "For his mercy endureth for ever." This may also be referred to the times of the Gospel, the preaching of which would diffuse the greater joy and gladness, and awaken the warmest praises for the infinite mercies of redeeming love, when all other sacrifices should cease; but the spiritual sacrifices of praise shall never cease; begun in the church on earth, and continued by the glorified saints in heaven to eternity.
2. Plenty shall fill their land. The long-deserted fields shall now again be covered with bleating flocks, the shepherds in full security feeding them, and all the land over-spread with cattle, both mountains and valleys, passing under the hands of him that telleth them. Mystically, this may be interpreted of the ministers of Christ, the shepherds, and his believing people, the flock of his pasture; vast in multitude, and feeding securely under the divine protection.
3. Greater than all temporal mercies, the divine Messiah is promised. Long he had been expected as the hope of his Israel, and now the fulness of time approaches when he shall be revealed. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of Righteousness to grow up unto David; the Messiah, the great Author of all Righteousness, and raised up to sit on the throne of his father David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land, all judgment being committed to him; and in righteousness he will discharge the trust committed to him, executing vengeance on the enemies of his faithful people, vindicating them from wrong, and justifying them from every accusation of sin or Satan. In those days shall Judah, his faithful followers, be saved from all the powers of Satan and corruption; and Jerusalem shall dwell safely, delivered from the fear of every foe, and no more under condemnation; the faithful enjoying peace with God, and in their consciences, which no enemy can disturb or take away from those who cleave to this great Redeemer: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness; his church being joined to Christ, she bears his name, is justified before God by his righteous obedience to the death of the cross, is made partaker of a divine nature, and stands complete in him.
3rdly, The branch from the root of Jesse being promised, the perpetuity of his kingdom is ensured.
1. Christ's kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, for in him alone can this promise be fulfilled. The house of David is long since extinct, or at least his descendants are utterly unknown, and for near two thousand years have been without the shadow of sovereignty; but Jesus reigns, and shall for ever sit on the throne of glory, while sun and moon endure.
2. He will have an everlasting priesthood, of which the Aaronical priesthood was typical. This has long since been abolished, but Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us; and, having offered one sacrifice for sin, is gone up into the presence of God, to plead continually the efficacy of that oblation once offered, and in virtue thereof to obtain eternal redemption for all the faithful: and this seems rather the sense of the prophesy, than either the application of it to the Christian ministry, or to believers in general, who are indeed a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ Jesus.
3. God will multiply his seed beyond the stars of heaven, or the sand of the sea-shore, and the Levites that minister unto me (the faithful, so called because all of them are his ministers, consecrated for him, and offering continually before him the sacrifices of prayer and praise).
4. The glorious revival of religion in the latter days shall continue to the end of time. During their captivity, many of the unbelieving Jews in despondence, or their enemies in triumph, were ready to conclude that the Lord had cast off the two families whom he had chosen, the house of David and Aaron, or the two nations of Israel and Judah; thus they have despised my people, as if they were abandoned, and no more likely to be a nation; swallowed up by their conquerors, and ready to sink into oblivion. But sooner shall the succession of day and night be at an end, or the revolutions of the heavenly bodies be interrupted, than the seed of Jacob be thus cast off, or a ruler of their own nation be wanting to reign over them, when God shall in mercy turn their captivity. What God did in bringing his people from Babylon, but imperfectly answers the greatness of this promise; and therefore we must look farther, to the church of the faithful, the Israel of God; who, to whatever state of sufferings they may for a while be exposed, shall still be preserved under the government of Christ their king: their captivity from the bondage of corruption God will cause to cease; and, though for a time they may groan under antichristian tyranny, God will break the yoke from off their necks; so that neither men nor devils shall ever be able to root out their memorial from the earth. We see that the church of Christ has, in virtue of this promise, stood the fiercest fires of persecution during almost eighteen hundred years; and we may rest assured that she will not only be preserved to the end,—the work of God shall still proceed and prosper,—but that her latter end shall have vast increase, and all her enemies be made her footstool.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 33". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11