A Bible Lesson on Jeremiah 30:1-22

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This is the first of four lessons from Jeremiah 30-33. These chapters are sometimes called “The Book of Consolation.” Most of what the LORD gave Jeremiah to say had to do with the coming of judgment on Judah. Jeremiah delivered to the leaders and people of Judah God’s gracious warning to turn and repent and avert disaster. He spoke God’s indictment of both Judah’s leaders and its people, and prophesied destruction at the hands of Babylon. The history of the last few kings of Judah was most sad indeed. Righteous Josiah died in battle with Pharaoh Neco, and was followed to the throne by his young son Jehoahaz who reigned only 3 months before being taken as a captive to Egypt, never to return. Jehoahaz was replaced on the throne by his older brother Jehoiakim, a puppet of Egypt and thoroughly despicable person. Among other evils, he treated his own people like slaves while sending huge amounts of tribute to Egypt. During his reign, Babylon defeated Egypt at the battle of Carchemish (in 605 BC) and Judah was annexed as part of Babylon’s empire. When Jehoiakim foolishly decided to rebel against Babylon, he brought down the wrath of Babylon on the nation. But he died before Babylon got around to marching on Jerusalem, and it was his son Jehoiachin who was on the throne when Nebuchanezzer arrived. Jehoiachin was among 10,000 people carried off in a first wave of exiles to Babylon in 597 BC. False prophets immediately came on the scene saying that this was a temporary condition and that the exiles would be back quickly. Jeremiah opposed them and said rather, that the captivity would last 70 years. He wrote to the first wave of captives and told them to settle in for a long stay in exile. That’s a grim message. But in addition to that message Jeremiah was given a message of hope and restoration that is found in these chapters.

 

Jeremiah 30:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.

The command here to write concerns these chapters of consolation in particular.

3 For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”

When Jeremiah speaks these words for the first time, Israel is no more (the northern kingdom has been thoroughly obliterated by the Assyrians, Samaria falling to them in 721 BC) and Judah is about to enter the Babylonian captivity. But Jeremiah is given hope for both kingdoms. There is something going on here far bigger than what the false prophets were promising. Jeremiah is beginning to speak both to his time and beyond. He’s beginning to speak of the work of Messiah and redemption. And this work is consistent with the promise-making-and-keeping nature of the LORD.

4 These are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah:

5 “Thus says the LORD: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.

6 Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale?

What has already come on Israel and is coming on Judah is serious business. Tough men faint away under the weight of it. The genuine wrath of the LORD is no small or light thing, and His just punishment is coming on those who have treated Him with contempt, even those among His chosen people. He cannot ignore sin and just look the other way. (That would turn the whole universe upside down and destroy any hope of morality.)

7 Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.

There is no promise that the natural consequences of the rebellion of Israel and Judah against their God will be somehow cancelled ahead of time. There will be distress. But the misery is not a permanent state. Rather, there is restoration ahead, restoration and mercy for all who will turn to/trust in God.

8 “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.

In the short run, the domination of Nebuchanezzer won’t last. In the long run, God will make provision for the fundamental sin problem of humanity. Rather than serving sin, a hard cruel hateful master, God will send a Savior. This will be One who is not a “foreigner” who neither understands nor cares about the miserable condition of fallen humanity, but is rather fully sympathetic to our situation.

9 But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

At this point, Jeremiah is writing in full view of Messiah, David’s Son, Son of God and Son of man, the second Adam. God promised that David would have a permanent dynasty, and permanent king Jesus-Son of David is the fulfiller of that promise. Immediate relief from the Babylonians is no permanent help. This is bigger than that. This is permanent deliverance and life under a just and righteous King.

10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.

This is promise of shalom. It is from the I AM, the LORD. It is in spite of the very obvious difficulties implicit in the scattering of Israel and the coming captivity of Judah. It is in spite of real guilt that demands just punishment. This is a promise of God’s blessing, of quiet and well-being in place of horrid misery that would cause a grown man to faint. This is humanly impossible. But the key fact is

11 For I am with you to save you, declares the LORD; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

What makes all of this make sense is that the I AM, the LORD, is with His people. Temporal judgment, while just and deserved and from God, will not be final. The nations that God used to execute judgment on His wayward people will themselves be judged for their own sin. Despite temporal judgment, God’s care for His people stands.

12 “For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous.

13 There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you.

There is no human cure, either for what ailed Judah or for what really ails humanity at its core. There’s no effective human defense attorney before God’s bar of justice, or humans to testify effectively on behalf of sinners. The loss to be suffered outside of God’s intervention is complete and there is no healing in man alone.

14 All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant.

God’s temporal punishment is severe mercy. It shows us the fickle nature of human alliances and their ultimately ineffectual nature. It reminds us that God alone cares for us. There’s no ultimate help in other humans. That comes from God alone, and were He to simply wink at sin we’d continue in folly thinking all was well in our wayward ways.

15 Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you.

It is an unusually wise person (and an unusually wise people) that recognizes the justice of God. God asks why the people are acting as if His righteous judgment is undeserved or at least surprising. The case of Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah is rare. The case of Judah’s rejection and persecution of the prophet Jeremiah is common. The way of repentance is narrow and the way of destruction is broad.

16 Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured, and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall be plundered, and all who prey on you I will make a prey.

Again, while God uses nations to judge nations, those He uses are not exempt from His universal morally perfect judgment. But there is a difference between the end of those who are His and those who remain His enemies.

17 For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’

God promises restoration and healing to His people. There is no such promise for His enemies. The fundamental error of His enemies is misapprehension and misrepresentation of His holy purposes and intentions. The profane see divine judgment as indication that God doesn’t care for His people or for His world in general. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is evidence of His commitment to His people and His creation. This is the message of Hebrews 12. Even decent human parents correct their kids and it’s evidence of their care for them. It is letting a kid be wayward that shows no love of or care for the child. The profane heart doesn’t live in light of God and looks at temporal judgment and fails to see the gracious hand of a loving God in it.

18 “Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt on its mound, and the palace shall stand where it used to be.

19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.

Again, this is a dark time in Judah. Misery abounds and will increase in the near future. But it won’t last forever. The I AM promises relief, restoration, compassion. He doesn’t throw away a people and start over. It’s the same ones He pledged Himself to that He will bless in the end. And that will result in permanent praise from His people. One might say that Jeremiah sees what John sees and tells about in Revelation. He’s looking at an eternally worshipping people.

20 Their children shall be as they were of old, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all who oppress them.

There will be eternal separation between those who are God’s and those who are not.

21 Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? declares the LORD.

What an amazingly beautiful promise is given through Jeremiah here. Messiah, the eternal Prince and King, is one of us. In the short run, He’s a Jew. In the grand long view, He’s a human being. He’s One who knows our frame. But He’s not just a human being, not even just a good or exceptional human being. That would not be adequate. As Luther put it:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

He’s the Man of God’s own choosing. He’s the second person of the Trinity. He’s the One who can approach the Father on our behalf, having lived a perfect life and died for our sin. Neither you nor I nor anyone like us could dare to approach God. But Jesus is more than one of us, He’s God.

22 And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

This is the fundamental aim of all life, to be one of God’s people and live with Him eternally. This is the fundamental Gospel message. The One who made all and upholds all by His mighty power provides restoration from sin and misery and promises Himself eternally to His people.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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