A Bible Lesson on Jeremiah 33

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.

Jeremiah is still under arrest and the city of Jerusalem is under siege by the Babylonians. God has told Jeremiah to redeem the family field in Anathoth and he’s obeyed despite the fact that humanly speaking, there is no guarantee that the purchase will ever be worth anything. And God has promised that there will be a return from exile and the restoration of ordinary peaceful blessed life for God’s people.

Jeremiah 33:1 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard:

It almost seems that the leaders of Judah think that if they can get Jeremiah to change his story, things will be better … as if rather than simply telling what God is doing and has revealed, Jeremiah has some power to change things. Not so.

2 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is his name:

It’s the I AM who is in charge, the One who made all that is from nothing, and He speaks.

3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

This is profound. God speaks … but it is those who ask, those who call, who get to hear. Those who turn their backs on Him (or even are indifferent to Him) don’t get revelation forced on them. Rather, He speaks to those who come humbly in prayer.

4 For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword:

Buildings in Jerusalem, even the houses of the rich and powerful have been torn down to provide materials to repair the city wall and fortify its defenses … to no avail.

5 They are coming in to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil.

What is happening to Judah (and has happened to Israel) is not about defense measures or the geopolitical situation. It is about the relationship of God’s people to the LORD. It’s ultimately the hand of God that is striking down the defenders of Jerusalem. The people haven’t looked to God with upturned faces and humbly obeyed His word. And so, He has figuratively turned His merciful face away from His chosen people.

But, consistent with what He’s said in the previous three chapters, the misery that is and will be in the exile will not be the last of God’s dealings with His people. There will be (in both the short and long runs) restoration.

6 Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.

Just as defeat and exile don’t ultimately come from politics or military sources, neither do abundance or prosperity and security. These come from the I AM. They are His “revelation” to those He loves and who love Him.

7 I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.

In the short term (70 years) this promise was fulfilled to Judah. Israel awaits any literal fulfillment. But in the grand prophetic vision ahead to Messiah, God has set in motion restoration of His original creation purpose of a good and blessed existence for a people that are His.

8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.

Judah has rebelled … so too has every human being born on earth except Christ. Some way somehow this will be rectified. Jeremiah doesn’t know details. But he is given this gracious word that sin doesn’t win in the end, that God will somehow act in a just forgiveness.

9 And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

Here’s a contrast to what presently is as Jeremiah sits under guard in a besieged city. God’s people will be a source of praise and glory for the I AM. There is a shadow of this in time, first in the Jewish nation and then in the Christian church. The eternal reality is pictured in Revelation, a blessed throng of human beings gathered around the throne of God eternally giving thanks for His goodness and mercy. That’s what His people long for, but it is a terror for His enemies. Jeremiah didn’t have any delusions about how the blessing of the Jewish nation would be viewed by its enemies. Sometimes post-modern Christians are not so clear-headed about (the logical) reaction of those who have chosen a life opposed to Christ to the prospect of the final coming of His Kingdom. The preaching of this end is both foolishness and the stench of death to the rebel against God.

10 “Thus says the LORD: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again

11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD: “‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.

What a beautiful, glorious, blessed promise. God will turn upside down the present circumstances of His people. To the human eye, there is nothing but misery present or ahead for Judah. But in both the 70 year short run and especially in the Messianic long run, there is instead great blessing and joy in store for God’s people. Indeed, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good and His mercy endures forever! This promise speaks to both Jeremiah’s original hearers and to the entire people of God pressed hard in a broken and fallen world.

 

This is a wonderful complete reversal of the consequences of judgment that Jeremiah was earlier called to proclaim.

Jeremiah 7:34 And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste.

Jeremiah 16:9 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will silence in this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

 

12 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks.

13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the LORD.

This is a wonderful picture of the shalom of God, the final destination of all who love Him and long for the coming of His Kingdom.

Now Jeremiah is given assurance of the fulfillment of God’s promises of an eternal good King and an eternal holy Priest.

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Verses 15 and 16 are very much like Jeremiah 23:5-6. But there is one significant and perhaps surprising difference. In Chapter 23 it is the righteous King who is called “The LORD is our righteousness.” Here, the promise is that that name will be extended to God’s people! That’s just marvelous, wonderful beyond all imagination, absolutely Messianic, and almost surely beyond the immediate understanding of Jeremiah who was given the words.

17 “For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,

18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

The reformed catechisms correctly tell us that we frail humans need both a King and a Priest. Westminster says:

Q25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

Q26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king.

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

But to be careful, Christ is not a Levitical priest, but rather (as Hebrews says) One “after the order of Melchizedek.” He is the perfect Priest and His sacrifice was once for all. Jeremiah at some level understands that God’s people need such and that God has promised that to His people. But he must also understand what Peter speaks of.

1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Christ Jesus/Messiah is the eternal high Priest. His people that bear His name though, comprise a holy nation, a holy priesthood … one whose prayers, adoration, and eternal gratitude are the reality that the Old Testament thank offerings prefigured. There is a coming a whole “nation” of Levitical priests.

And Jeremiah is reminded just how sure God’s word is.

19 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:

20 “Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time,

21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers.

God’s promises are more unshakable than the regularity of the universe He made. He’s promised a King and priests.

22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”

There is but one true offspring of David and eternal priest. But God promises a great multitude of “offspring” of David and the Levitical priests. In the long run, this is a multitude that stretches far beyond physical Israel.

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Again, Jeremiah is assured of the permanence of God’s promises.

23 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:

24 “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight.

25 Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth,

26 then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”

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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