Read part one of this post here.
How fitting, therefore, that Jeremiah’s ministry in chapters 30 to 33 is one of much needed comfort: He is commanded to write in a book of how the days are coming when Yahweh will restore the fortunes of Israel and Judah, bringing them back to the land, and they will take possession of it (30:2–3). Although he will discipline them (30:11) and none of the broken cisterns to which they have turned can heal them (30:12–14), Yahweh will heal them (30:17). We learn in chapter 32 how this can be, in light of Judah and Israel’s covenant–breaking:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord” (31:31–32).
This is the New Covenant, and through it Yahweh will accomplish that which the Mosaic Covenant could not. He will forgive his people’s iniquity and remember their sin no more (31:34), finally fulfilling all of his promises to his people Israel (31:35–40).
In chapter 33, Jeremiah demonstrates that all other covenants will be fulfilled in the New Covenant. Following a reference to David’s righteous Branch, who will be called “The Lord is our righteousness” (33:15–16), Yahweh promises that “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne” (33:17) — in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:13). In verse 18, “the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever” — in fulfillment of the Priestly Covenant (Num 25:13). Verse 20 ties these first two in with the Noahic Covenant (cf. Gen 8:22), and verses 25 and 26 tie that in with the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gen 17:7). All of these covenants are finally fulfilled in the righteous Branch, the Son of David, Jesus Christ.
Taken together, these wonderful things demonstrate — especially to those of us who have not seen the NT teaching springing from its OT background — the glorious richness of how all of God’s promises find their yes and amen in Christ (cf. 2 Cor 1:20). The Jesus to whom we constantly seek to, look to, and point to is accomplishing something far greater than we often realize because we have not seen this fullness in the OT Scriptures. Again, this long-range perspective will encourage our counselees to look beyond themselves, and to the God (i.e., the branch, the Jesus in whom they have trusted) who is faithful in the midst of their struggles.
Condemnation; Appendix (Jer 34:1–52:34)
Following this respite of comfort, the remaining chapters of Jeremiah return to the dominant theme of judgment and condemnation. Jeremiah is imprisoned and endures more persecution (37:11–16), and is then cast into a cistern (38:1–6), because his contemporaries do not appreciate his prophecies of judgment against them. Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezzar, who carries the people into exile (39:1–9). Yahweh’s mercy is evident, however, as Nebuchadnezzar gives a special order that Jeremiah should be treated well (39:11–12).
Even with all they have seen in terms of the futility of hoping in other nations, Israel is tempted to go to Egypt for relief from Babylon (42:14–19). Not only do they ignore Yahweh’s warnings against this extreme folly, they force Jeremiah to accompany them to Egypt (43:6–7). The subsequent chapters issue judgments for idolatry (44:1–30); on Egypt (46:1–28); and on a number of other nations (47:1–50:46); and culminates in a prophecy of the utter destruction of Babylon (51:1–64). The final chapter represents something of an appendix, recounting the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Babylon.
It is instructive for us that God’s people — even with all of the benefits we have received — can be tempted to return to trusting in things that have proven untrustworthy, and that God has even told us in his Word are untrustworthy. Here is an example of some who gave into that temptation, but also of some (represented by Jeremiah) who remained faithful and spoke the truth against the lie of the broken cisterns. Additionally, we find that although the instruments of God’s discipline may seem to do well for a time, they will ultimately face a certain judgment for their sins against God’s people.
Jeremiah tells the devastating story of the consequences of Israel and Judah’s spiritual adultery and lawlessness. In their awareness of the judgment against Israel, Judah has taken to keeping up the appearances of external religion while continuing to whore after other gods — behavior Yahweh finds even more abominable than Israel’s. The only possible outcome is judgment coming against Yahweh’s people; but this is not without hope. Although he will discipline them for a time for their idolatry and rebellion, he will also fulfill all of his covenant promises in the New Covenant. This word indeed comes to us as one that is useful, teaching us about the dynamics of rebellion, heart idolatry, true righteousness, and — especially — Yahweh’s glorious salvation in Christ.
Rebellion, Idolatry, and External Righteousness – Homework from Jeremiah 1-7
NOTE: Be sure to support your answers to the following questions as much as possible from the Scripture text itself.
- Read Jeremiah 1-7.
- What are the two aspects of Israel’s sin as described in chapter 2?
- How does one of these compare with what other nations do (or don’t do) — and why is this significant?
- What does Israel think they can accomplish by their pursuits that are being condemned in chapter 2? How has that worked out for them so far — and what does Jeremiah say it will lead to in their future?
- Why does Jeremiah say in chapter 3 that Judah’s sin has surpassed Israel’s?
- Can you find anything in chapter 5 that continues this theme?
- Chapter 7 is where this theme becomes really explicit. Why does Judah think that they can practice evil without consequence?
- Can you connect Judah’s treachery and false assurance to things your own heart does, or temptations you face?
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