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BULLETIN TWENTY EIGHT
The Summary of Much in a Little
THE CERTIFICATION OF CERTAINTY
Jeremiah 31 and 33
What is so special about Jeremiah 31 and 33 ?
It is this. Around the end of each of these chapters, the Lord not only states unequivocally what He intends to do. After all, In the God of the ages, of creation, of redemption, this foretelling is neither strange nor rare. Our gear from creation has been surrounded with instructions, though for all that, surprisingly few, as being in the image of God, that are suitable for fellowship with Him in delicious concordance (or not!); and much was left open to test, to exhibition.
Trials were fundamental, showing the heart, and this surely they succeeded in doing! (Genesis 3). It also led to what is sometimes termed the protoevangelion (or protoevangelium if you prefer a Latin base), as seen in Genesis 3:15 (as if on the way to 3:16 in John's Gospel). In this, God declared to the fallen pair, tested and found VERY wanting, but not in either guile or guilt. The divine design was that, having moved in league with Satan who insinuated himself into the test conditions, out of their distress and failure, now overpowered by Satan, there would come to them from the sublime source of their Creator, someone in human form, but with a splendour of mastery, accompanied by sacrificial love, who would overcome Satan, while being bruised himself.
It would be line with what is written, as one element of the theme: "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters," (Psalm 18:16).
Accordingly, as one supernatural power had prevailed in scuttling the innocence of mankind, so that supernatural Author of all had in mind a successful, indeed triumphant wise warrior of more than human power and that excelling the wit and work of Satan, but this in a scenario not without suffering. Such was the depth of the Lord's mercy to man that God Himself was willing to act through man, in His own domain, to deliver him. It would not be merely a supernatural act; it would be a supernal performance where grace and power allied to each other fulfilled a lovingkindness of care to accomplish a vicarious deliverance (cf. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Ezekiel 34, Hosea 13:14).
This was predicted in increasing detail in the prophets, especially David in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Habakkuk, Nahum, and Malachi, explicitly, yes and Daniel who by now was showing the death data for the One now designated the Messiah, who was to come (cf. Christ the Citadel Ch.2). It came to pass in short order, after rather a long time.
In this intervening period, there came the universal flood (cf. The Great Divide Ch. 8, SMR Ch.2 , pp. 160-170, Red Heart, Dead Heart and Pure Heart Ch. 4, and texts like The Genesis Flood by Morris and Whitcomb). Its resulting vast levelling and layered planation surfaces seen repeatedly on this earth over thousands of miles, still smooth having had no vast times for erosion and pitting, and piled up layers in rocks, each quickly laid down and covered before pitted, immense layered super-emplacements, so smoothly layered as done in a recent parallel, in the case of the Mount St Helen's. This came through the lift of a mountain top, some years ago, and this layers of rock surfaces, one on the other direct, remain in fluvial evidence along with the internationally collected remnants of botanical and animal fossils in deep meterages of smashed together residues, an accompanying testimony.
Christ detailed the point that AS in the days of the flood, people right up to it, were carrying on normally without seeming concern or care about the events to follow, for which warning had been given and for which type of extremity, Noah no doubt notoriously building the ark for years: SO when the time came near for His own return, would they carelessly act.
But then, it would not be the coming flood, but the Judge whose day arrived. For this, then, there would be a similar preoccupation with trivial (relatively) events and norms that looked not at all at the coming overwhelming divine act, despite all the signals and signs which the Lord indicated most clearly, would precede His return (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9).
Abraham came some little time after this universal flood, and in him the Lord placed two promises, which are so vast in significance as to comprise two premises. First, in him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed, that is in him and his 'seed' or forthcoming one to be (as in Genesis 3:15, but now narrowed down as to how), and secondly, it was given to him that he would be led to a land "which I will show you". This was also made more detailed in continuing revelation to Abraham as in Genesis 17 and 22, where the name of the land was specified that was promised throughout generations, and the nation confirmed, which would become numerous.
In Moses' day, the divine revelation continued, associated with the Lord who through multiplied miracles enabled Israel, at that time a captive people in Egypt, indeed one turned to slavery, to escape from what appeared the greatest empire on the earth. This with its remarkable plagues in preparation, was achieved through divine intervention, leaving a mess of the massed army of its power.
So they went through many vicissitudes to their promised land, already a vast assembly of people. The Lord showed them the way they were to live, stressing the redemption He had in mind, and would execute in due course (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15ff., and the pictorial descriptions in the interim of the sacrificial system).
He also designated the discipline if they were contemptuously or passionately or driftingly to move towards unreal gods, as if it were some matter of substantive choice, rather than realism, to have an operative God. You can imagine what you falsely worship - man is marvellously made for choices, expanding ideas - but the true and living God is far greater than any imagination, being its very source, so enabling love to be seduced into foolish indulgence, or conduced to the unsurpassable wonders of the actual Creator.
As Jeremiah, later yet, was given to point out,
"The gods who have not made the heaven and the earth,
will perish from the earth and from under these heavens" (Jeremiah10:11).
Israel also would, if need be, be exiled from its land as a lesson, if they chronically moved away from the truth.
This they did. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel gave warning. They continued to tout their follies, and so went into exile (cf. II Chronicles 36, II Kings 17). In the latter, the Northern Kingdom went and was even replaced with different peoples! Judah continues. Again and again, exile came as predicted discipline (Leviticus 26). First the 70 year exile in the day of Jeremiah, would occur; and from this they would return at its expiration date (Jeremiah 25), and later (cf. Isaiah 11:10, Jeremiah 33), they would return from a far more potent exile (as in Ezekiel 36-37), after which soon would come the Messiah to rule.
Before that, now extensively predicted in detail, in a kind of identikit that none but He could fulfil, His time of sacrificial suffering to atone for sin would arrive, fraught with miracles of healing and power, ending in crucifixion and death with bodily resurrection, not only to peak the resurrections He first performed on others, but to break the jaws of death by meeting its claim of penalty on sin, in Himself (cf. Isaiah 29:17ff., 35:5ff.. For this, as He was abhorred as foretold (Isaiah 49) by His own people, there would come an extended one, leading to a return to Him who would crown that vast exile with His own majesty.
It is in Jeremiah 31 and 33, in the very MIDST of the rebelliousness of Israel, about to suffer the first and minor exile, and with the one to end in the historic time of the Messiah in extended view, that amazing asseverations, vast promises, utter divine assurances are made, of stunning power and stress. History would long wear on, but the intentions of the Lord for Israel were direct, decisive and indomitable. His assurances are staggering, and in fact, this whole assemblage as the end of the Age approaches, is now nearly complete.
It is to these two chapters that we now look.
A. Jeremiah 31 with preview within Jeremiah 33
What is the progression here ? What is the sequence ? Is there a future for Israel in view of this discipline of double dispersion which was to come ?
Yes, there is. Jeremiah 31:17 declares this very thing: "There is hope in your future," says the Lord. In 31:10-12, we find further: "He who scatters Israel will gather him." Further, in this is tenderness and realistic concern: it goes on, "and keep him as a shepherd does his flock." There is a reason for this, one aspect of which is this: "for the Lord has redeemed Israel." This is done in one setting, in PAYING the power cost of delivering Israel from the Egyptian army, long before, and is seen in another setting in the sacrificial system of animal depiction for so long since, but especially in the lovingkindness of the Lord, which almost explosively seeks to find what though free, seriously and with strenuous fidelity, loves Him and desires to serve with His will and for His glory.
He delights in such care and provision for His people (cf. Micah 7:18-19) ; and "their souls will be like a well-watered garden." Indeed, He will "satiate the soul of the priests with abundance."
How will this be ? First, after the 70 year short exile (Jeremiah 25), they return to base, but secondly when the day of the sacrificial Messiah comes at the date specified (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), and they reject this grace, then exiled again, they will yet return despite their rejection of His sacrificial first coming. This comes before His coming to judge comes into focus (as in Joel 2, Psalm 2, 110, 97- 98, 72, Micah 7, Isaiah 66, Daniel 2, Joel 3, Ezekiel 37:21-28, 38-39, Luke 21:24). He faithfully refuses to blot them out (cf. Ezekiel36:22). Here the prediction summarises much: Israel will indeed, the heritable land, that of the entirely unconditional promise to Abraham, be "trodden under foot by the Gentiles," but after this, there is the conjunction, UNTIL. That discipline is not for ever; and its end will be both startling and dramatic.
This great change of events, appears in the text of the words of Christ (Luke 21:24); but their dispersion and the Gentile occupation of Jerusalem is to be until WHAT happens ? It is until "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." You see the same type of sequence in Micah 5, where after the announcement of the incarnation in the person of a babe, in Bethlehem, there is an indication of WHY Israel is then to go out once more into exile.
They "struck the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," in other words roughly they judged the Judge, and THEREFORE there will be exile until, once again, UNTIL "the time when she who is in labour has given birth," that is the time for their rebirth into a nation in their land occurs, the people regathering, and the appointed season arrives. The "He shall stand and feed His flock." Ezekiel 34 has made it dramatically clear that God Almighty Himself will come as man and deal with the false shepherds, evil religionists, and bring salvation to His people (cf. Hosea 13:14, Psalm 40).
Now, at this very twenty first century time, Israel, having ignored this opportunity, as foretold, for salvation in Christ, is duly as promised and with unsurpassable emphasis fulfilled, nevertheless and in due time to be put back into its "own land", (Jeremiah 23:8, Isaiah 36:17, Ezekiel 37:14,21,39:28) and ready.
A "New Covenant" is found in this setting, to come into operation, one specialising in writing the word of God on the heart, in invisible transformation. This will, we see in Jeremiah 33:15, apply as opportunity to the entire earth (cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). It has already spread to many Gentiles (cf. Jeremiah 16:19ff., Hebrews 11). But here in Jeremiah, one arm of it is in immense focus in these two chapters. In Jeremiah 31:31-32 we find that the very mountains and cities of Israel will be there ready to welcome the incoming rebels, whose former time of unity with the Lord, now comes back with their bodies, to their land where Messiah soon rules (Jeremiah 31:31-32).
This time is therefore now near for this time (Luke 21:24). In Jeremiah 31, there is emphasis on the waiting patience of the Lord with them as an afflicted people who inherited shame for their chronic sinfulness and loss of the vast blessing of the Lord, yet were delivered (as noted in Jeremiah 31:15 with 'Rachel', Israel, weeping over a vast slaughter of her children, this in fulfilment occurring under King Herod at the time of the incarnation - Matthew 2:16ff.). Stop weeping, the Lord cries, for their work is remembered, and the children will come once more in good numbers to their own land, in practical replacement, to restore what was lost.
The same tenderness, but arching in splendour over them is seen in Jeremiah 31:18-20, as the vast body of Israel is at last converted to their forsaken Messiah, and blessed with His accepting grace.
So we see in this Jeremiah 31 Chapter, there is an Overview of much, like a vast plateau, dotted here and there with mountains of impact. Indeed, following this, there is a tenderly dramatic account of Israel moved in heart, learning from its long exiled time as rebels (Jeremiah 33:7), not only returning as those who forsook the Lord, to become prisoners abroad, but "to rebuild those places as at the first." It is RESTITUTION to what was lost, rebuilding of what was broken, restoration of what had in the divine fury, been demolished and emphatically not some simple turning from sin to salvation. It is a RE-turning.
But what of the degree of emphasis on this return and revival and New Covenant restoration. How certain is it ? Is it some vague notion ? Far from it. This being the status of the returnees, God makes a double headed declamation, asseveration. You may, He indicates (Jeremiah 31:35-37), be able to supplant the ways and laws of the God who made and aligned the universe. It could be envisaged.
BUT NOT BY ANY LESS MEANS WILL ANYONE EVER BE ABLE TO DISPLACE ISRAEL FROM ITS RESTORATION SITE, ITS RECOLLECTION CENTRE, ITS PROMISED LAND AND ITS DIVINELY APPOINTED WAYS. There is a new covenant, parading the whole pith of salvation from the changeless God; but there is no new Israel. There is also a profoundly important fact. After having made so clear that the disrupted, dispersed, disciplined Israel WILL BE RETURNED to its land, we are given a correlation of events.
"In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David, a Branch of righteousness.
He shall execute righteousness and judgment in the earth.
In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell safely."
The capital city, Jerusalem, the Messianic reign, these will occur "in those days and at that time." The series is most emphatic: there is no room for contrary manoeuvre.
Time is caught like a shark in a net. WHEN is this return to occur (it is still proceeding as Israel is now inhabited by over eight million people, and increasing at a steady clip) ? in that area of time where the Messiah comes. It is not at some other epoch, not at some other conjunction of event. THIS is the historical setting, and people, and return and restoration to their wasted former glorious premises IS right here. It in fact had major moves for long, many even buying land last century, but its vast impact is to be found in the recurrence of the nation-state of Israel in 1948, with only half of Jerusalem, 1967, with the other half, in 1980 with its bold declaration of Jerusalem as their eternal capital. Thus we have the concurrence of the meaning, the meeting, the climacteric thrust to the return of Jesus Christ, the security of Jerusalem at that time all in one place; and it is set in parallel to one nearby, namely in this case, Jeremiah 31. And all that is caught in the same net, as you examine Luke 21:24, where a nation with its site defined as trampled under foot by the Gentiles, the non-Jews, those to whom it was not given comes to be liberated for its people, in near sequence to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ONE who left come back to the PLACE they had and the hills and the plains are theirs, to be repossessed (Jeremiah 33:12-13), inviolably determined by the word of God from the first. Temporary dispersion from the land, yes; alienation, or removal for good, NEVER! David's city sacked, taken back again, seduced, sequestrated ?Start showing powers overastrono,my if you hope for this, for the maker of the heavens says otherwise, and enters into explicit confrontation with those harbouring such take-over dreams. Such is the teaching.
Take over from God if you can, but short of that, the thing cannot be altered. So He despises the arrogance of those who seek to context with the ONLY MAKER of the land, who owns it, and mocks their expansionist loftiness. You may remember that this is what He did before destroying the army of Sennacherib, who had boasted that no gods could stop him (Isaiah 38). The only actual God, did more than that, destroying his army; while later that monarch was killed BY his sons IN his temple.
It is strange how one religion, that of the false prophet Muhammad, seems particularly strongly, to want to counter-claim this. Where is the literary basis from antiquity, to sanction this notion ?
It is in the Bible. In what ? In this, that when Hagar was removed from the household of Abraham, she was with her son, Ishmael, and he was to become a great nation, though not only cast out of the camp, but a non-participant. Yet what but negation, has this to do, even if relevant at all, with the Messiah, or with the promised land, which was the promise to Abraham through Isaac, the son of his own wife, and through him to Jacob, both being separately confirmed.
How odd to seek confirmation of your status in the only ancient and relevant document, the Bible, when explicitly and repeatedly disowns the Ishmael line, and endorses the natural one through Abraham's wife Sarah, saying by contrast to other option, "in Isaac your seed shall be called," (Genesis 21:8-12).
This is the divine confirmation without elaboration. Contest on this involves the overthrow of the testimony, of any charter quite explicitly, together with the rebellious discard of the narrowed inheritance into the that of divine promise and prediction to just one line, Isaac in explicit negation of Ishmael.
This is clearly affirmed, not only in Genesis 21:8-12, but also in Genesis 28:10ff;, as in Genesis 27:37ff.. There in only one line through which all the nations of the world will be blessed, to whom the covenant comes, and with it the land, by divine appointment! It is that through Isaac and Jacob, differentially from all, distinctively and declaratively. The son of the maid servant is not it, but of that of the wife.
In particular, and on the other hand, the Bible teaches that a certain wildness is the lot of Hagar's child, Ishmael, and its progeny to come, but in the midst of the wars and strife, he - that is his descendants - will be allowed to continue in being. This is a concession, yet it is measured and slight. This Ephraim is by no means the child of promise, for whom the earth will be blessed, the relevant seed of Abraham.
Being something else, it is specifiable and it is specified for its alien yet supported existence. But the Bible, which speaks concerning Ishmael, speaks also of the relevant seed for the Messiah, and it is not Ishmael. It COULD not be clearer that it is by contradistinction, through Jacob. How then appeal to the Bible, which gives only exclusion!
Israel has its own history, discipline, mercies and covenantal emplacement. It is this which has such a profound divine support as shown in Jeremiah 31 and 33. It is here that the Messiah comes, and it is He who will rule the world, having first given His life as a ransom for many, offered to all, in a grace past all measure. It is useless for the nations, or any one of them, to seek to displace Him, His ways or His grand designs and personal procedures, whether with one or with many.
EXCLUSIVELY to the children of Jacob, is given in the grand plan of God, the promised line and their own promised land, about which so much futile warfare is conducted. This proceeds UNTIL the Lord, first bringing back the bulk of Israel to Himself (as in Zechariah 12:10ff., Ezekiel 36:22-26, Micah 6), then teaches His enemies, many seeking to destroy Israel as many have done for millenia, as in the Inquisition, pogroms or Nazism, and as many still do in elaborate and devious ways, still failing to heed in woeful folly, a lesson which grows to a climax to match the irruption into the premises of Israel returned.
Then in the midst of ruin, they will be taught what the Lord MEANT in bringing out of their own land, Israel, and in bringing them back; and at the same time, Israel will see the trail of their discipline and ultimate blessing, according to the promise of the Lord, and in terms of the tenderness shown for their restoration, as those cast out for their crime against Christ, and brought back for the Lord's faithfulness to the site and scene.
This we saw markedly in Jeremiah 31:18-20. Is not Ephraim His dear son, not eternal but premissed and promised as the source of world-wide blessing through the Messiah, son of David in the flesh. God still cherishes ... the nation.
There is an answer to another question found in Jeremiah 31:21-22. Israel as so often and often in vain, is appealed to concerning its waywardness, but then there is an announcement, very like that in Micah 5:1-3. There is to be a miracle (as in Isaiah 7), something staggering, which would make the son of a virgin the site for the incarnation, once and for all, of God (SMR pp. 770ff.). God With Us (Immanuel) is the name He bears.
What is this ? It is the NECESSARY omission of a male parent in the case of the virgin (it is not 'a virgin' but the virgin, this the only Hebrew term available never used of a married person as E.J. Young points out in his Studies in Isaiah, and the only possibility in the context, as picked up faithfully in Matthew 1:22-23). THUS God as the Father and THE virgin (select) as the mother, has THEREFORE as indicated in Luke 1:35ff., the SON of God as the incarnate child.
THIS is how that age-old problem of sin as the goad, God as the lover, mercy as the means and truth as the inexorable quality, is to be solved. As in Micah 5, it is through a babe, the very opposite of power, that the spiritual transformation is to be made, which for Jew or Gentile, freely gives a grace for a place in the kingdom of heaven through sacrificial death (as in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, 69 and confirmed in John 1:12, Romans 5:1-12).
So we come through this Jeremiah 31 overview to the closing verses. These in brief and to the point, mean this: ONLY if God's will and ways could be subverted, replaced, so that He might be set at nought and displaced in His will, ONLY THEN would it ever be that Israel, the nation, would become the displaced and replaced nation. The power of God would cause this NOT TO HAPPEN.
Heir to promise in gospel and land, Israel would be excluded from her own land, place, not by any person, power, gang, egomaniac, paranoid, sophisticated set of robbers aiming at extracting His property from before Him. Overthrow the work and ways of God, and then you could begin to qualify.
Something very different is in store, by the word of God as the work of God.
Indeed, as in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, Jerusalem, site of the atoning death of the Saviour, the Christ, will in due course be prominent, a site of special sovereignty, that of the Lord. It is not every day that God in the format of a man dies in the love of His creation, man, in the environs of Jerusalem, and never will people be allowed to forget this forging of the fact of everlasting salvation.
This salvation was not wrought somewhere, but here, in the place appointed by God for the temple, and now for the One to whom it pointed. This world, which loves to confuse and mix in vague human dreams, changing this or that or all concerning God, will be faced continually in the day of the rule of Christ as Lord, in this world (Revelation 20, Psalm 22, Isaiah 65, Psalm 72) with FACT.
God is One; He is the God of the Bible, the Sender of the Messiah, the triune One (as in Isaiah 48:16ff., Matthew 28, II Corinthians 13:14), who has His own internal fellowship, the Father and the Everlasting Word who reflects Him (more than secretary or secretariat, perfect expression in one Person - Hebrews 1:1-3), and the Holy Spirit who moves in any at any time as He is sent. He is not a bumbling or remote philosophic statue, but infinite in depth, the original for man, in His image, who is infinitely below Him in power, made to specifications, including what man CANNOT make, liberty to love ... or not!
It is this only and living God, resource of all miracles, pre-documenter of history, sustainer of the books of DNA and their operability, who declares this. YOU do not know the thoughts of the Lord: HE WILL KEEP the nation Israel intact, following its disciplinary dispersion, and fulfil His own allocation of what nation He pleases to what place in His creation. It is Israel and the place specified in the Bible, with Jerusalem the centre as originally the case and to become of even wider application in His forthcoming rule.
There is no doubt that some may become sufficiently spiritually inebriated to 'try God on', that is to challenge Him who
1) made them, and
2) can end their earthly careers at any moment,
and overcoming the ways of their Maker, displace Israel. That is what it would take! But this is only the former of the two affirmations on Israel the nation who rebelled, was exiled and is caused to return by the Lord (Jeremiah 33:7). The next comes in Jeremiah 33.
Israel to go from its place as a nation, ways, procedures, position, land, landscapes, hills and surrounding cities ? Blank refusal is the divine response. The arrogance of such an assertion passes not only all bounds, but all means! It is a null option. Still, it will be taken with predictable results (cf. Revelation 19:19). The Jews suffered as a nation; many among the Gentiles will through THEIR stubborn intractability, suffer no less. Like 'teen age drunkenness, it is deplorable, grievous; but trying to hold up God is a ghastly folly, a pugnacious figment, the thought of a demented mind. Sanity is merely one of the things in the hand of God. So cancer can also be provoked if you smoke ... enough.
We learn there that it is when the Lord so causes Israel to return to its "own land" that the Messiah, the son of David, will come to rule and "execute judgment and righteousness in the earth."
B. Jeremiah 33
Now we come*1 our outreach more to the second dazzling thrust of light on this world from its divine source, found near the end of this Chapter 33. This time it is more like a PREVIEW of what is to come, than a review. Indeed, at the very start, with the prophet Jeremiah undergoing considerable duress in a miserable prison, there is that rising above circumstances which is so characteristic of the Lord dealing with His servants. It is like a central army command continually communicating with field officers, despite their challenges from the enemy. Courage is called for and may be obtained. Now to Jeremiah comes the divine word, and we read the account of it at once.
CALL, the Lord challenges,
"Call to Me, and I will answer you,
and show you great and might things which you do not know."
Speaking of the response to the Babylonian invasion at that time, the Lord shows that all the great preparations to resist are entirely useless; for in effect, it is as if they were organising all for their own ruin. It is to fill "their places with dead bodies of men whom I will slay in My fury." The way out discarded at that time, the way on is no highway, but certain disaster. Refusal to repent does not bring relief but ruin. It is parallel to those who with endless borrowing at length CANNOT pay the interest. Here, defeat is certain, and Jeremiah first learns this in the divine predictive coverage of what is coming.
Yet, in a now familiar manner of the Lord at this phase of relations with His people, at once He indicates a later outcome, for an eventual ransom is in mind: "Behold I will bring it health and healing. I will reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth." Those two are inseparables! where Israel is concerned, the tragedy of His people's discard of the Messiah and its cost (Micah 5:1-3), and the triumph of His ransom in due time (Isaiah 50, 53, 55) where faith at last comes or its prelude begins operations.
We are in the stated realm of great and mighty things to come. In Jeremiah 33 we are moving crisply to the day of the Messiah (33:15ff.) and it is in this future field in view that the matter develops.
The captives of the two components into which Israel had divided, will return and "rebuild those places as at the first," (Jeremiah 33:7). Thus the overall sequence of finding the Lord in the day of Abraham, abundance overarching at various times especially the day of David, sustained rebellion, dispersion for 70 years and early return, comes to a grander scenario. This time their chief sin is to kill the Messiah, and while this was the divine plan of Him who uses even the anger of man to His glory, it was like a spiritual suicide to the proponents (except they should repent). This time it is when the Spirit of God and grace comes that the offence is repented of and the restoration comes to its height and wonder (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Micah 5:3ff., Isaiah 32:15ff., Jeremiah 31:18ff.).
Then the final restoration of this people as a nation in its "own place" is secured and they will "dwell safely" in their old sites, in the very particular places of their former greatness. This is the order. It will, except in the New Covenant provision, which reflects the very grace of their repentance and faith in the stricken but resurrected Messiah, be a matter of rebuilding as at the first! Many may want to steal the land, and many were permitted to use it during the appointed exilic penalty for their chronic rebellion (as specified in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 32), but this disaster is past.
New disaster awaits those who try to grab what God has given back in forgiveness, and in faithfulness to His promise to this people, over millenia once so near, then so rebellious, dispersed, then following regicide, dispersed on a grander scale, not to be replaced, but placed back ready for the Messiah, challenged but chosen, assailed but triumphant as in Zechariah 12:4-9, on the road to the national salvation of 12:10ff. As God works, interference, like heavy static on a telephone call, is neither divinely appreciated nor tolerated, the bill for this divine action to come already covered in a signed cheque from the word of God.
Ponder some of its exquisite balance and depth in this last phase. Now you have the lovely transition from the desolate places to their former fruitfulness (which of course is precisely what has even now happened in the most staggering abundance, Israel quite recently being listed as the third greatest floral exporter in the world! cf. Isaiah 35:1). In Jeremiah 33:10, you find the savour of the thrust of pity and joy, as it recites what is to come and to be:
"Thus says the Lord, 'Again shall be heard in this place,
of which you say, It is desolate, without man and without beast,
in the cities of Judah,
in the streets of Jerusalem
which are desolate,
without man and without inhabitant, and without beast,
the voice of joy..."
It is like revisiting the beauty of a marriage site, all brought back in its intimacies and particularities.
Ezekiel seems yet more poignant in its delicious contrast, his sequence from the downward pull of arrest and ruin to the shivering delight, as of an insect, suddenly sunning its new wings, as it emerges from an earlier encasement. In Ezekiel 36:34-35:
"And the desolate land shall be tilled,
whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all who passed by.
And they shall say,
This land that was desolate
shall become like the garden of Eden,
and the waste and desolate and ruined cities
have become fenced and are inhabited."
It is all of one kind, this divine exuberance of grace and joy in their joy, rejoicing in their restoration, and the fulfilment of the conditions for it. "Behold," we read in Jeremiah 33:14, "the days are coming... when I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah."
What then is to come amid this vast restoration and protection, marked out in Zechariah 12:10-13:1 in its conversion to the crucified Christ for such an abundant swath in Israel ? It is this.
"In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David,
a Branch of righteousness,"
(as in Zechariah 6, who as priest and king will "bear the glory").
And as to Him ?
"He shall exercise judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In those days, Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will dwell safely," (Jeremiah 33:16).
As News then of a profound order, then to Jeremiah it came.
It is in sight now with Israel sustained against all comers - and there are many, and we await its coming exhibit, that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who so bluntly told the murderous high priestly party, as seen in Mark 14:62,
"And you shall see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Power,
and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Then all the nations will be ruled by Him (Isaiah 11, 32, Jeremiah 3:15, Matthew 25).
Israel meanwhile, for so long as a nation, desolate in sin, comes to seem exuberant in happiness in restored and tender relationship with the Lord, a pattern for the prodigals of this world. How beautiful the poignant reminders and enraptured renewal results, notwithstanding all that went before! In Jeremiah, you find as before a Winter's fire, the enriching warmth of the Lord transforming what was desolate, and the people afflicted brought to abundant life. 'Ephraim' is back, as we saw in that figure; and how deep the emotion as we survey the land which lay desolate become like the garden of Eden, first geographically and then soon to come, spiritually.
The same is revealed in Ezekiel 36-37. In that prophet, 37:1-10, the two steps in that order are shown in two commands, first for the scattered bones of the banished people to come home, back to their own land, then for the breath to enter into them! This leads on to their one King ruling, a in Ezekiel 37:22-26, and in particular ruling over them in the land of their calling, "for ever and ever" (v. 25). Only the cessation of this old earth itself, ends their location
Indeed, the Lord is the Rock (cf. Psalm 62, Isaiah 44:8) and there is no other. People can toss stones, as Peter was tossed for a time, at first weak and then strong; but the divine rock is the One who is impregnable, immovable, and pursues His plans from beyond time, into the currents of history. Dramatically asks the Lord, "Is there a God besides Me ? Indeed there is no other Rock..."
What if He meets Impervious unfaithfulness ? To whomever or whatever He makes His pronouncements, He performs them (cf. Matthew 5:17-20, Joel 2:11). Yet His love surges like an unstoppable wave, yet never merely destroying what may be lifted up out of the spread of the surf. Let us then look at these last verses in Jeremiah 33, to see even more emphasis on the enduring, incorruptible, incorrodible place given to the restored, redeemed nation of Israel in that very site of their former temple, but now far more to the point, of His crucifixion and resurrection.
In Chapter 33 of Jeremiah, then, having made the many unique pronouncements about Israel in terms of its past, issuing like water into a lake, into its present and interpreted closely in those terms for what is to come (31:17, 33:6), the Lord then in verses 19 to 26, makes an enormous commitment to what is coming!
Now in Jeremiah 33, at this ending phase of the account, we find the challenge even intensified beyond that of Jeremiah 31. In this instance, you have to be able BREAK the Lord's 'covenant' with the day and the night so that you CANCEL day and night from the norms for the earth. You can do that ? THEN you could have a hope in breaching the Lord's covenant with Israel, confirming ITS place where He put it, ITS procedures as they belong and its appointments distinctively at His hand. They are part of HIS determination for history, just as the astronomical lights are His arrangement for light for the world! (cf. Ephesians 1:11). A divine shaping and scenario backs all.
To be sure, it will be the New Covenant for salvation, but this is far from breaking His bookings for Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15ff.), which remain as they WILL remain at His good pleasure. If you had Russia and China and Iran and North Korea all with nukes trained in joint action against you, that would be a trifle, a NOTHING compared with the powers against any who seek to cut off Israel as a divinely appointed and empowered nation. When it comes back, and comes back to Him, then any seeking to counter WILL find this out for themselves, if they should try to experiment (cf. Ezekiel 38-39, Micah 7).
Thus it is all very clear, and efforts to take over the universe will find by no chance will it change its origin, destiny or dynamics with anyone's new aspirations to govern it, be it human, devilish, dictator or dervish. If any person or nation or group of nations made such an effort to counter Him, confront and eliminate His power, dwarf His desires and designs with their own, then woeful is the scenario in contemptible ruin and sustained destruction to match the sheer depravity of such an effort.
First dethrone God, then you might be able to do many things, including divorce Israel from the Lord's control and destiny within the Gospel (as per Jeremiah 31:31ff., 33:16). That is the scathing challenge to the devil's enduring effort to deceive the nations (as in Revelation 20:3 and 8), just as he deceived Eve and through here Adam at the first.
Since the very gods of this earth (including self-appointed ones as in North Korea, except they repent) who did not make the universe will fail before the heavens and earth, there is hope only in the crazed thrill of trying, as in waiting after taking half a pound of arsenic; for the end is known from the first, and those who make themselves first will be last.
Such is the essence of the message to those, who as put in Jeremiah 33, concerning "those who have despised My people, as if they should no longer be a people*2 before them." You are dealing with the greatest heights when you fall into such depths!
The Lord accepts the challenge as tantamount to a revision of deity, a replacement of God, an invasion of the divine, and will repudiate it with the entirety of divine power. Even in Jeremiah 31 and 33, twice He warns of it; twice He provides the uttermost in warnings; twice He exposes the meaning of this thing: the red alert ascends to the heavens, and echoes back as if refracted to remind the earth!
What then of any ultimate assailant with very much a mind of his own ? When your Maker is your opponent, and His will is your aspiration to overcome, and you are multiply forewarned of His approach, attitude, prediction and performance, and seek to sack, control, overwhelm, dispense with Israel, then the fact that you live only at His permission becomes very relevant. When it is over, judgment has simply rolled on as normal (cf. Micah 7), on its predicted course and devastation is the inheritance of the brash and thoughtless, the greedy and the odious, who want to act as if God, without being it!
NOTE and REFLECTION
The intervening Chapter 32 of Jeremiah is highly agricultural. Thus Jeremiah is instructed to take up an option on some land outside the city, and to pay for it.
How, wonders the prophet, can this be since the city is already devoted to destruction at the hand of the Babylonians! "Is there anything too hard for Me ?" the Lord asks, replying in derogatory deprecation. He explains the intention is to bring them back when the time is due, so that legal deeds may indeed be made once more for parcels of the land, and people will dwell safely. In other words, right down to the legal and commercial value of actual sites in the land to be restored to Israel, such as that Jeremiah is then engaged in acquiring, the restoration will be, and there is nothing evanescent about title deeds! "I will assuredly plant them in this land" (Jeremiah 32:41), and "bring them back to this place."
The coming in its own time of the New Covenant will bring on an unrupturable future, and Israel at last will likewise remain as long as sun and moon endure, in its place (as in Ezekiel 37:22-27, 39:25-39). The continuance of each is inseparable. As long as this present earth remains, till its dismissal phase, Israel as a nation will remain in it, and the Lord will be Lord over all of it (Psalm 72). But Israel will be - as all the rest - a chastened nation, saved in the unmitigated splendour of divine Gospel grace and entire faithfulness, the guarantees of God unbreachable; for to Him, nothing is unreachable.
Both Israel and the other nations will be taught the meaning of these vast episodes, this divine faithfulness and the historical issues (Ezekiel 39:22-23.28). WHY did Israel go out, why did it come back, why is it so protected now, why was it so vulnerable for a time, an appointed time. It will all be known the way the arithmetical tables USED to be known, before so many abandoned themselves to keys, rather than seeing the key within!
Already it is on record these 2500 years or so; but then they will all heed! No marring is to be found in the divine wisdom, wit, word, coverage, from the first intimations as in Genesis 3, till the last in Revelation, for in its classic detail, coherence, comprehensibility, pointers to even greater grandeur, actions, principles, explicatory power, it lacks nothing.
More is to come (I Corinthians 123:9, but only consistency in cascades and depth in profundity is to be found, together with precision of detail in the word of God, the Bible of our instruction as a race. There is nothing like the word of God in written form, because it is His, and there is nothing like the Lord! Philosophy is like baying hounds in its endless inconsistencies, mixed assumptions and unbased assertions (cf. Colossians 2:8, SMR Chs. 3, 4, 6, 10). The Lord is light, and no error is found in Him. That is one of His delightful characteristics, who is worthy of worship. That is the verified and validated finding to which one has delightedly come.
Indeed, it is but one more marvel, that for all His reliability, the Lord does not breach and bully, but assigns and destines, according to His foreknowledge and His delight in showing mercy, where receptacles are found; for He knows from the first, all things to the last, and needs no revision! (cf. The Marvellous Matter of Predestination Perspectives, Appendix).
It is both appalling and fascinating to see the long-standing effort of nations to secure the downfall of Israel, even in Psalm 83:4 the vigour of detestation and aversion, or fear, being apparent, in its enemies. It is ALWAYS to the point that it was the living God who called them, and who at length sustains them, so that what is against Him will be inclined to sacrifice to their own religions, what so amply testifies of the Lord, both in their triumphs when they abided, and in their disasters, as when they sacrificed the Messiah, in the rush to conform to this world and its ways.
How like the case cited by the Lord in Jeremiah 33:24, is this in Psalm 83:
"They have said,
Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation;
That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."
In Jeremiah, the Lord gives His staggeringly immovable, fervently determined answer, that to change the course of nature would be the beginning of the power of anyone who would hope to make Israel no longer a nation, to have it collapse in some way, like a departing star, and to lose its national and particular distinctiveness, as if you might try to call it, and there is no response to your call. The EXACT OPPOSITE to this scenario is in the Lord's scenario, and in the exposition of His saving work.
Since there are to this day those who want just the same concerning Israel, apparently including Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and those infected, it is apparent that there is no surprise at the total and calamitous confrontation and disaster to come to those who imagine that they own the earth, or part of it, to the detriment of its actual Maker! He has His covenant, name and method in view, and being God is not a spare time action for anyone. It is important to realise this for many reasons; and this is one.