Monday, June 13, 2011

The Restoration of God's People

Reading: Jeremiah 30 – 31   
To this point in Jeremiah, good news has been scarce. Three times we have read, “Do not pray for this people...” (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11), because their captivity was so certain praying for their well-being would be pointless. But now Jeremiah is told to compile a book of all the Lord has told Him because “the days are coming...when” God would bring His people, Israel and Judah, back from captivity and restore them (Jeremiah 30:3). That is how this section begins and it ends with a familiar promise:
31“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
The days in which God will restore His people from captivity corresponds to the time when God makes a new covenant with His people — a covenant not like the Sinai covenant, because that covenant was broken by the people, though God was faithful to it; a covenant in which God would put His laws in their minds and write them on their hearts, when all within the people of God would know the Lord, a covenant in which their wickedness and sins would be forgiven and no longer remembered. The day in which God would restore His people is none other than the New Covenant, or the New Testament, as we call it.
In the middle, between these promises of restoration of the people of God from captivity through a new covenant, these chapters are rich with promises that find their fulfillment in the Gospel; some very clear while others are a bit more veiled. Consider some of these promises that find their fulfillment in the Gospel.
In Jeremiah 30:8-9, the promise is that “in that day” the Lord would break the yoke off their necks and tear off their bonds; no longer would they be enslaved in bondage to foreigners but would serve the Lord (Yahweh) their God and David their king, “whom I will raise up for them.” I cannot help but recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 regarding His yoke that is easy and light replacing the yoke of bondage (bondage to sin and the law, which we had). (See also Jeremiah 31:2.) In the Gospel we realize the fulfillment of verse 9 when God raised up “David their king” (i.e. the son of David), in more than one way. First, in that the royal dynasty ended during the exile, an heir would have to be raised up, and secondly in how God raised up this heir, as Christ was truly raised up from the tomb as King over God's people (Matthew 28:18).
In Jeremiah 30:24, we are told about “the fierce anger of the Lord” not being turned back “until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart” with this Divine commentary: “In days to come you will understand this.” Jeremiah looked to a day when the mystery of the Gospel, now veiled (in his day), would be fully disclosed. Paul speaks of this mystery now revealed (Ephesians 3:3-5), as did Peter (1 Peter 1:10-12). This is the day in which we understand how God's fierce anger was not turned back until he fully accomplished His purpose to redeem us as He poured His wrath upon His Son who bore our sins. This is how the New Covenant would be put into effect (Luke 22:20).
This promise of restoration was not only for Judah, but also for Israel, the northern tribes, which had long since been scattered. In Jeremiah 31:5-6, promises are given for Samaria and Ephraim (Ephraim being another name for the northern tribes, Israel; Samaria the capitol) that they would “go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” The conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4:20-24 comes to mind and its discussion about where to worship. This Samaritan is assured that while Jerusalem is the place that Scripture affirmed for worship, the time has come where this Samaritan and all peoples are invited to worship the Father in Spirit and truth. This is the Zion to which we have come (Hebrews 12:22).
Jeremiah 31:8-9 speaks of how God will bring His people and gather them “from the ends of the earth,” and from among the blind, lame, expectant mothers and women in labor. That a great throng would return (see Revelation 7:9). Surely this is a promise that should encourage those serving in pregnancy centers rescuing women and their babies from the cruel clutches of the abortionists' grip. The Gospel is indeed the answer to deliver them from death.
We could find verses which find fulfillment in John 10 with the good shepherd, and John 15 with the well-watered garden finding fulfillment in those who abide in Christ. For a message in which I walk through Jeremiah 31:15, and how Christ's birth really does bring about the fulfillment of the “voice heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children,” go to and search for the message titled, “When Weeping Turns to Dreaming”.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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