AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH October 2, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and Christ without Compromise by Faith
A PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE and THE PLAN
Part I ... from Jeremiah 30,31,33
1. Jeremiah 30-31 - the First Thrust
Hear, says the Lord to the nations, declaring (Jeremiah 31:10),
" 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock,' for the LORD has redeemed Jacob."
Indeed, the topic in view, Israel, will be brought from the North country,
"among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child," for "a great throng shall return there ... For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first born."
God knows His first-born Israel, and the thematic continuity is massive, with constant reminders appealing to the unbiased and ready mind as if someone were continuing a biography.
The vicissitudes of this people, for blessing, for deliverance, short-term, long term, Old Covenant, or New Covenant phases are all there; as are extensions to the Gentiles, not to obliterate the tree or its components, but to stress the basic unity which at last brings all things to Christ, and all things to their divinely scripted conclusion (Isaiah 55, 60-61, 66, Jeremiah 16, 33, Ephesians 1:10). Re-scripting the performance, either to obscure Israel on the one hand, or to glorify it on the other, meets the contradictions of God (Isaiah 19, Zechariah 12-14, Jeremiah 31,33). Nothing could be clearer. The Lord is going to surprise the nations in their reckless antagonism and slurs (cf. Jeremiah 24:9, Ezekiel 5:15, 22:5, 36:4, 38-39), with their assault forces and enmity.
Indeed, from their hand or power, the Lord will ransom Jacob, even Israel, that lost sinning nation which had been so close to the Lord (Deuteronomy 7:6ff.), only to move so far! There is none like it in this, and in this the Lord speaks of His intentions, both to Israel and to its perpetual enemies as in Isaiah 51:22ff..
Whether in Jeremiah or Ezekiel, Micah or Isaiah, Zechariah or the Psalms, many times the Lord defines just this unique party, Israel, and what He plans for them, leading on to a vast conversion to Christ to come in that very land, before Christ's return. Let no one confuse you, God says many things in many ways, but many are the passages where He says what is to come for THIS people. It is best to take every biblical passage and check to whom it is referring closely, and never merely to generalise. This one calls the textually true method!
Then you learn much more about where the world is concerning judgment and startling events to come. Indeed, David Ben Gurion, famed former PM in Israel put it this way, in "no other people".
"I know of no other people
that was exiled from it land,
dispersed among the nations of the world,
so hated, persecuted,
expelled, and slaughtered
(in your days and mine alone 6 million Jews were destroyed by the Nazi),
yet did not vanish
did not despair nor assimilate (although many did),
but yearned incessantly to return to its land,
and believed in its messianic deliverance for two thousand years;
and indeed did return to its land in our day and renewed its independence.
"And I know that here
never was a people in this land -
called always in Hebrew the Land of Israel -
that was so entirely identified all of its life with this land.
"Although there were many conquerors
(Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, and British)
this country was never the one and only homeland to any people other than the Jews.
"I am aware that
there is no other case in human history
of a people returning to its land after eighteen hundred years.
This is a unique fact, but one that operated in every generation,
for there was no generation when the Jews did not try (although not all of them succeeded) to return to their Homeland.
A second fact is that the Christian world and the League of Nations,
which was composed almost entirely of Christian peoples,
recognized the historic link between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel
and endorsed the Balfour Declaration."
What then of Israel and its inveterate enemies ?
The tables will be reversed. The aggressors against Israel will suffer from the antagonism of the Lord to bullies, themselves subservient to sin, passionate hypocrites in this, opportunist rebels who merely mimic Israel in folly, while adding their harassments and internecine hatred (Jeremiah 31:36, 30:8-11, Isaiah 49:17-18, 51:21-23, Micah 7:15ff., Ezekiel 38-39). Yet there is more in this long period, this time of many days before the Lord returns to Israel (as in Romans 11:12,25ff, Hosea 1-3).
If there is to be unspeakable joy, yet there is to come in the line of events leading to this consummation with Christ, the Messiah, a day of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), parallel to that announced in Jeremiah 31:15. What is this ? In the very setting of the oncoming rule of the Messiah on this earth (Jeremiah 30:9), we see what is fulfilled in so atrocious a manner by Hitler, in such sites as Auschwitz, exploiting a people not yet returned to the Lord.
Thus we move in tableaux for a time. Jeremiah 30 has moved to "the latter days," and the Messiah (Jeremiah 30:24, 30:9). In Jeremiah 31, the time starts nearer. There is a return from the impending exile (as predicted for 70 years by Jeremiah in Ch. 25), and great will be the joy. Yet trouble stalks the land, for alas as seen in Psalm 78, Israel was expert in provoking the Lord and not proceeding in simple faith and reliance, though some Kings and times were a delight.
Thus, again, find in Jeremiah 31:15: "A voice is heard ... Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." Here it is specifically children who are in focus, and tender maternal emotions which are described. However, Israel will endure beyond this time, in fact found to be associated with the Messiah's birth, at the hand of King Herod, who slew the very young to prevent the Messiah from displacing his own intended history to be. Despite his grossness, that ruthless king failed; and instead of preventing Christ, he merely fulfilled prophecy, in one more effort of this world to rub out Israel with her Christ and her arrow pointing to His coming.
Now in Jeremiah 31, the scene moves to the root of the matter. At last, after a seemingly interminable time, one suited to the need for repentance on behalf of the most carefully distinguished subject, namely this once chosen, but deeply fallen, long troubled Israel, we hear of this nation moved to sorrow. Given much, and fouling this special divine grace, it has been chastened, chastised; but it now recognises the reason and seeks the Lord. It sorrows as it returns, seeing the true perspective. Here envisaged as just one people, it is prophetically found declaring this heart realisation - "for You are the LORD my God!" , while the Lord seeing the turning and the repenting (Jeremiah 31:19), asks from the heart, and in reflection at this juncture, muses (Jeremiah 31:20):
"Is Ephraim My dear son ? Is he a pleasant child ?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still.
Therefore My heart yearns for him.
I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD."
How will this mercy come ? As always, it is through the Messiah, the mandated man of mercy, whose goings are from everlasting (Micah 5:1-3), to be stricken that believers in Him should be delivered, as shown in Micah 5-7 or Isaiah 53, 60. Past the format is the core: Jew or Gentile will participate in this light, whatever their past, when found as called, drinking of the draughts of mercy, giving reception to the Messiah, slain and sufficient, regal and to come in power as before in suffering (Isaiah 54-55, Jeremiah 16, 23). Thus just as the Lord in Jeremiah 31:20-21 is reviewing their plight with the prospect of pardon, sandwiched in before we hear of the new Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31, there comes the reference to the means and method of mercy.
"How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter ?"
God asks, before turning to the means of blessing.
"For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth - a woman shall encompass a man" - 31:22.
We ask two questions here.
What has this NEW THING to do with anything to the point, and how does it relate to the context, in this, what has just gone before and in the other, what is about to follow ? Before it, is realisation of redemption and afterwards is the New Covenant. Here is something created, brought to bear out of the ordinary, new, pregnant with meaning in context. It is the Messiah, given as in Isaiah 7,9, 48, Psalm 2, 72, Micah 5, divine parentage leaving only the mother's part to mankind: incorporated in flesh because incarnate from heaven. Here is the only way and the entire way: God who will give us a child, prepares the ground in a great prelude in Isaiah 8-9, His very name a focus (Isaiah 9:6-7). It explodes into sight.
What is His name ? It is wonderful, counsellor, the Mighty God, Prince of Peace. Indeed, even 'everlasting Father' is in the name, together with Prince of Peace for His incarnate format, since as Christ declared it (John 14), "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." He like glass is seen as revealing the Father through Himself, apt for all His depth, being Himself deity, the Sent from the Sender, the spiritually definitive and personally profound exhibit of the glory of God (cf. Hebrews 1, Isaiah 48:15ff.). The child is not author or base of His name, but butt for it!
This in Isaiah 7 and 9 is a reference to God Almighty, the Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, being given as a NAME to this child to be born, this God with us, this Immanuel (Isaiah 7). And how it with us ? why as a CHILD who is GIVEN, and who is NAMED to characterise Him and attest who and what He is, His mission, mandate and feature, explaining the sensational and exhibiting the depth of it.
In this, it has features parallel to those of Isaiah 7, where a prodigious event is to occur, and is again, this child given. If He is to be the Prince of Peace with an ever-growing kingdom "upon the throne of David," then His name is to include this, and hence the preludes to it, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, all set out in their pairs. Thus He can hardly be giving counsel concerning His own name! for He and His name is the outcome, and the infant is not speaking but spoken of, in human format to grow and rule, fulfilment of the promise to David.
So in Jeremiah 31, we come to conversion in Israel, the virgin-born Messiah its focus, and the New Covenant, a categorical change associated with these developments (Jeremiah 31:18--22,31). We move to Jeremiah 33 to follow up this theme.
2. Jeremiah 33 - the Future Funding
God now moves in emphasis from the more immediate future, to the opposite.
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
God declares to the prophet Jeremiah (33:3). There is to be a lifting of the eyes to the more distant mounts, and to the lights afar off, so that Jeremiah needs to make a special call on this divine resource, as if tuning the chronoscope, the time-telescope more finely, or using its power more utterly. He even looks to that consummation of the calling, when Jerusalem will have the name, "The Lord our Righteousness", like the US Statue of Liberty, a characterisation of her charter.
As to that Lord, God will at that remote day, make to grow up before Him, cause that growth which mankind has in its format, something extraordinary: the Branch (of Isaiah 11, Zech. 6:12ff.), who will as there "bear the glory." His rule will be effectual, not merely symbolic or aspirational: for He will "execute judgment and righteousness in the earth," thus making a total change, from regality to reality.
As in Jeremiah 16:19-21, His bounty and wonderful power will not only be towards the redeemed, the remnant in Israel, but to the Gentiles also (as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), an extension and not a replacement; for as Jeremiah 31, 33 provide, any thought of extinction of that body of Israel on this earth meets the entire force and power of God to the contrary. People often prefer to dispose of hell, while continuing to deserve it, unaware of the standards that make for peace, and the requirements of truth, through mercy; and they also most frequently prefer to ignore what God has twice declared with an emphasis to make the very rocks quiver, concerning Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37, 33:19-26). Is it some implicit sort of contest ? YOU Almighty, dare to make a word which YOU say will certainly HAPPEN. We are a race and we will see about you and about that! Let us see what WE will make happen. Is that it ?
As man ages, and his genome becomes more and more decadent (cf. Waiting for Wonder Appendix ), as do his morals, if possible, at least in outward folly, so his ludicrous epic of following Israel in rebellion against the God of reality and the only possible source of truth, including that about himself, becomes as clear as his assault on that very nation. Such appears the obsessive compulsion increasingly gripping a world at once nervous and self-assertive. What however do we further find in Jeremiah 33 concerning Israel and the Lord's intention ?
In Jeremiah's own day, as so often he had told them, Babylon is about to prey on the people, and fighting is ineffectual (cf. Isaiah 37:10, Jeremiah 7:14ff.). It is to be and it will be. But this done,
"Behold, I will bring it health and healing. I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth," (Jeremiah 33:6).
Cleansed, the place will have a new joy, and desolate cities will become places of rejoicing once more.
"Behold," He says, "the days are coming ...
that I will perform that good thing
which I have promised
to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah."
Here then we come to the often repeated theme of Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Micah 7, Psalm 2.
The specific situation to be, follows, vast in the future.. As to the divine descendant from David, deity in Being, incarnate in flesh, the Branch of Isaiah 11 and Zechariah 4, He will rule the entire earth, and as in Psalm 72, He will EXECUTE JUDGMENT and RIGHTEOUSNESS on the earth! (Jeremiah 33:15). Their abhorred Messiah, forgiving in terms of righteousness and His availing sacrifice for sin, just as they will at last become repentant, will restore them; and it is He who will rule the world. Judah in particular will be saved, and Jerusalem as in Zechariah 12:6, even Jerusalem itself, as noted there, will be saved. No more emphatic way of stressing that it is the city itself is readily available: Jerusalem says Zechariah, will be restored to her place - even Jerusalem! Indeed, it is more than just that, for He declares:.
"In that day, I will make the governors of Judah
like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves,
they shall devour all the surrounding peoples
on the right hand and on the left,
but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem.
The LORD will save the tents of Judah first,
so that the glory of the house of David
and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem
shall not become greater than that of Judah."
This spate of triumphs over numerically superior foes, by the power of God, has already happened in my own life-time: in 1948, institution of the nation in the midst of multi-national invasion; in 1967, overthrow of USSR-empowered Egyptian invasion; in 1973, triumph over an assault on Israel's holy day, and in 1990-1, the Gulf war, with some help! A multinational force this time triumphed in passing, as they sought to restrain Iraq's oil movement: an Iraq which stoutly maintained it was still at war with Israel, even sine 1948!
The Lord has used many means with one result. Israel now awaits the vast conversion through the power of the Holy Spirit noted as to come as you move from Zechariah 12:1ff., to 12:10 and on to 13:1. If then Israel is facing these end-time developments, let each see that he, she, has also been rescued, not in time only, but into eternity. What if many of the Gentile people who have had more than 2000 years to come to Christ, and entire submission to His divine will, still lag behind. Don't boast, says Paul in Romans 11 to the Gentiles. Israel has temporarily been cut off from her tree of belonging through lack of faith; God is able to cut off peoples who similarly come to the time when millions do not believe, recalcitrant, hesitant, adrift.
NEXT WEEK DV we have Part II of this address.