By Sam E. Stone
In last Sunday’s lesson Jeremiah was being held in a courtyard prison by King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 32), and he is still there in today’s text. Jeremiah repeated with fuller explanation his prophecy of the one great king called “the Branch,” who would one day come and fulfill the promise of an eternal throne. Jeremiah had been prophesying in Jerusalem for some 40 years at this time. He was respected by his hearers, despite the serious warnings he had given them.
The word of the Lord came again to Jeremiah. The prophet made it clear that the Lord being spoken of is the one who created the world. This is the divine name of God, revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14-16). James E. Smith wrote, “Yahweh created the future. He would certainly be able to fulfill his promises. His very name means ‘he who is.’ It is a pledge that he would keep his word.”
Jeremiah reminded the people of further devastation to come as Jerusalem would be destroyed. The streets will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. God would use the pagan Babylonians to discipline his nation (Israel) since they had disobeyed his will.
Tremper Longman III put it like this: “God begins by describing the period of judgment that is presently underway. The siege of Jerusalem has required that its inhabitants dismantle houses, even the palace, in order to provide defenses against the attacking Babylonians who have raised siege ramps to storm the walls. But these drastic defensive measures will not prevail. . . . Instead, dead bodies will fill up these defensive structures. God has abandoned his people.”
Earlier the prophet predicted, “This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:11). After these things took place, then God would heal the people and their land. This healing included abundant peace and security. Biblical peace is more than the absence of war. It includes peace between people and God. Broken relationships are mended. Prosperity and contentment come for the Lord’s people. As Ronald Youngblood put it, “The Lord will first judge his people (3:4-9), and then restore them in ways that will be nothing short of incredible (vv. 6-26).”
Included in God’s promise was a return to the land by both the northern tribe (Israel) as well as the southern tribe (Judah). Both would come back from their time of captivity. This prophecy is looking forward to a time still to come when Jews and Gentiles are united through the peace brought by Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-16). In the new Jerusalem God’s people will include those from every tribe and nation (Revelation 3:12; 5:9; 21:2).
In order for forgiveness to take place, certain things had to happen. “I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me,” declared the Lord. His once rebellious children needed his healing touch. Only then could he forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. James Burton Coffman noted that this passage is clearly Messianic. “It should be noted that it is not the impressiveness of the literal city of Jerusalem that will constitute the joy and praise and glory of God, but it will be ‘a name’ (v. 9). . . . The only connection that the Messianic kingdom has with literal Jerusalem is the ‘name of it,’ Heaven itself being called in the New Testament, ‘The New Jerusalem.’”
The world would take notice of what God was doing. They will . . . tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it. The physical city of Jerusalem had become a place of desolate waste without people or animals. That would cease. Great things were ahead. The sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, suggest a happy wedding celebration enjoyed by all the people. What had been absent by the Lord’s decree for many years would be present once more (compare Jeremiah 7:34). Again the people would thank God and bring him offerings expressive of their gratitude.
The praise described in verse 11 is also found in Psalm 106; 118; 136; and Ezra 3:11. I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before. The Lord still keeps his promises.
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.