Thru the Bible – Day 176

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Day 176 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 30 – Chapters 30 – 33 form the literary climax of the book of Jeremiah. They are often called the “Book of Comfort” or “Book of Consolation” because they comprise an extended declaration from God that, despite the people’s rebellion, He will not forsake them. Only in Jesus are we today able to make sense of how a just and holy God can lavish such mercy and grace upon His people without compromising His righteous standards.

Here in chapter 30 Jeremiah’s inner turmoil and his anguish over the message of doom that he has had to announce over Judah and Jerusalem are not by any means the whole story. There are two great truths attached to the covenant promises of God. First, those who reject the grace of God will not know the blessings of the covenant but only the curses. Second, despite the intractable faithlessness and treasonous rebellion of the people, God will infallibly bring in His kingdom, peopled by those whose hearts are made new to love and serve God.

We must understand that the holy city, the temple, and the Davidic throne, in their time of glory under David’s son Solomon, were the center of the universe to God’s people. The meaning of all creation was summed up in these things. But now they are about to be demolished by the Babylonians. From the ashes God will raise up a new kingdom. From the broken world God will raise up a new creation. Possession of the Promised Land is central to the covenant.

Here the renewal of the old covenant promises points forward to a time when out of the suffering would emerge glory—through the cross and resurrection. For Believers these truths converge to point us to the fact that suffering is but for a time, until renewal in glory (Romans 8:18–24). All is under the sovereign rule and plan of God as He acts in all the events of human history—past, present, and future.

Whereas in 23:5 Jeremiah speaks of a descendant of David as the focus of God’s rule among His redeemed, here it is David himself who is named. This is a way of speaking about the One who will fulfill the role of the ideal David (see also Ezekiel 34:22–24). He will be a Son of David, and it is this role that is assigned to Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1, 17; Acts 2:29–36; 13:22–23, 32–39; Romans 1:3–4).

An important theme in the Old Testament is the reversal of the physical ills that are the lot of fallen mankind. This is part of the cosmic reversal of the fall, when the creation is renewed (Isaiah 35:1–10; 53:5; 65:17–25).

Understanding the comprehensive scope of the cosmic reversal prophesied by Jeremiah helps to underscore the importance of Scripture’s testimony that Jesus died bodily, rose bodily, and ascended to heaven bodily. The physical aspects of His victory join with the spiritual realities to guarantee that our salvation includes our total being, body, soul, and spirit. The redemption of the creation and the redemption of our bodies go hand in hand (Romans 8:22–23). The false teaching that Jesus rose only in spirit leads to the idea of the immortality of the soul rather than the resurrection of the body. The Bible teaches that the final, permanent state of God’s people is not some kind of disembodied, ethereal existence but rather involves fully physical human beings. It is also clear from the New Testament that total and consummate healing from our fallen state occurs only in the final day of resurrection (Revelation 21:1–5).

How does knowing that your eternal future includes a complete renewal of all of who you are lead you to worship Jesus?

Jeremiah 31 – Israel will be reunited and the covenant promises of God will be realized. In New Testament times the people of Israel lived in the Roman province of Judea. As today, they were then all known as Jews—originally the name of the people of the tribe of Judah. One of the great mysteries of this nation is the extent of their rejection of Jesus their Messiah. How then are such prophecies as this one fulfilled?

The general pattern of the Old Testament promises is that God chooses Israel as His people, but because of their sinful rebellion only a remnant will finally receive the promised blessings. This remnant shall be a light for the Gentiles, of whom many will be saved and share the blessings of Israel. This pattern is maintained in the New Testament. Jesus declares that salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22), and that His mission is to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6–7; 15:24). Paul describes the gospel as being “to the Jew first” (Romans 1:16; 2:10). The advantage to the Jews because of the covenant is great (Romans 3:1–2; 9:4–5), but they have squandered it through unbelief (Romans 3:9–18).

Paul wrestles with the problem of Jewish unbelief in Romans 9–11 and shows himself to be a latter-day Jeremiah, grieving over the unbelief of his people (Romans 9:1–3; 10:1). Paul sees the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament promises in believing Jews and believing Gentiles becoming one new man in Jesus (Ephesians 2:11-21). Because the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile is broken down in Jesus (Ephesians 2:13–14), Gentiles become fellow citizens with the Jewish saints (Ephesians 2:19–20). God declares through Jeremiah that His love is everlasting, and that God will be the God of Israel and they shall be His people. His covenant promises will not fail.

The doctrine of the “remnant” is the way the prophets refer to the faithfulness of God in tension with the overwhelming faithlessness of the chosen nation. God will save a people out of the mass of humanity. Paul takes up the remnant doctrine in his concerns over unbelief among his fellow Jews. A remnant is being saved as the true Israel (Romans 9:6–8, 27; 11:1–7).

Eventually, however, this remnant shrank and shrank. Finally, Jesus came as the embodiment of faithful Israel (Matthew 2:15), the truly righteous and suffering Servant.

The theme of the scattered remnant coming to Zion and being kept safe by the Good Shepherd is repeated. Being redeemed from “hands too strong for him” is a reminder that God’s people are helpless to save themselves. God graciously brings His people back from a captivity that they are powerless to oppose.

Being ransomed and redeemed by the power of God alone is the reality that is ultimately fulfilled for God’s people in Jesus. Jesus declares His power to save to be the power of the Father (John 5:19–24). True believers are God’s gift to Jesus; they are saved and secured, for none shall be able to pluck them from His hand (John 6:37–40). Salvation is God’s work from beginning to end, which is why we have assurance of our salvation (John 6:44). Those who are in Jesus cannot sin their way beyond His gathering grace.

Jeremiah’s use of the theme of the saved of Israel coming to Zion is taken up in Hebrews 12:22–24. The Jewish-raised Christians to whom Hebrews is addressed should understand that by believing in Jesus as their Messiah, they have thereby come to the true Zion (Hebrews 12:22). The fulfillment of the promises of the prophets is reached by faith in Jesus. All that Jeremiah and other prophets say about the return from exile to the Promised Land is ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus. In Isaiah 2:2–4 we are told that the day when Zion is restored is the time when the nations also will come to find salvation with the Jews (also Micah 4:1–2). Thus, Jeremiah helps us to understand that Hebrews 12:22–24 applies to both Jewish and Gentile Believers.

The initial call of Jeremiah (1:10) is recalled in verse 28. The judgment on Adam and Eve was not the last word and, by the grace of God, life continued outside of Eden with the promise of future redemption (Genesis 3:15). So also the judgment on the elect nation is not the last word, and God promises that He will “build” and “plant.” While God deals with His people as a corporate entity, there is nevertheless individual responsibility.

The New Testament also reflects this relationship of individuality to “body life” in the church. Some Christians stress only the truth of the need for an individual to repent and believe, while neglecting the doctrine of the church as the body of Believers within and through which God acts.

The relationship of the individual to the corporate stems from the nature of the covenant itself. Adam failed, and all those who are in Adam were represented by Adam’s failure. Yet we have no reason to object to this seeming injustice—for Jesus, the second Adam, succeeded, and all those who are in Jesus are represented by His success (Romans 5:12–20).

Verses 31–34 are one of the most significant passages in Jeremiah. It is quoted (Hebrews 8:8–13; 10:15–17) and alluded to a number of times in the New Testament (see Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6; Hebrews 7:22).

When Jesus, at the Last Supper, refers to the “new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20), He picks up the theme of Exodus 24:8, where Moses seals the covenant of Sinai in sacrificial blood. It is this Sinai covenant, written on stone, that Jeremiah indicates needs to be renewed by being written on people’s hearts—not merely presumed to be in effect on the basis of the external practices of the Mosaic economy. This corresponds to the regeneration by the Spirit that is spoken of in Ezekiel 36:25–28.

Jesus’ own sacrificial blood seals the new covenant of our salvation (Hebrews 8:6; 9:11–12). The internalizing of the law on the hearts of the people is the transformation by which the covenant promise will be fulfilled (2 Corinthians 6:16). God asserts that the people “shall all know Me.” This is not only an intellectual knowing about God but a relational knowing made possible by regeneration. It means believing in Him, trusting Him, and obeying Him in gratitude for salvation. Those to whom the new covenant applies will have their sins forgiven (“remembered no more”; see v. 34). This perfectly describes the glorious situation of Believers, who know God internally through regeneration and who have had their sins wiped away by His gracious provision.

How does seeing all of these predictions being fulfilled in Jesus reassure your faith?

Jeremiah 32 – The purchase of a field seems inconsistent with the message of destruction at which King Zedekiah was so offended (see verses 1–5). It is Jeremiah’s expression of his confidence in the reliability of the Lord’s promises of an eventual end to the exile and the restoration of the people to their own land. Destruction and renewal are the effects of judgment and redemption.

What Jeremiah describes here foreshadows first the death and resurrection of Jesus and, second, our being crucified with Him and raised to newness of life (Romans 6:1–8; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; Galatians 2:19–20; Colossians 3:1–4). As the believing exiles were taught to wait in hope of restoration, so we wait for the return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead and to bring in the fullness of His kingdom.

Jeremiah’s humanity is revealed in His prayer, which seems to express some of his concerns about God’s instruction to purchase a field even as destruction looms. He first rehearses the greatness of God’s actions from creation, through redemption from Egypt, the giving of the Promised Land to Israel, right up to the present situation of disaster. But then he questions, “Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, ‘Buy the field . . . though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans’” (v. 25). We can readily identify with Jeremiah’s desire for reassurance regarding God’s will. It is easy to be rattled by events that we do not fully understand even when we have a firm grasp of the gospel. When our faith is thus challenged, we should focus, not on how well we believe, but on how well God has acted for us in Jesus (Romans 8:26–39). Note that Jeremiah’s prayer, prior to his questioning statement, rehearses God’s saving acts.

The Lord’s reply to Jeremiah is instructive (verses 26-35). If there is any rebuke at all, it is muted or implied. He patiently repeats the rationale for the destruction of Judah and the exile of the people. Sometimes we don’t need answers to our questions or doubts; we need rather to be reminded of God’s grace. As with Paul, who prayed for relief from his illness three times, God’s answer to us is often, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This grace is the action of our God in Jesus, and the word of the gospel as the Spirit focuses our faith on the sovereign power of a loving, saving God. For Jeremiah it is the reminder of God’s revealed plan for the redemption of His people.

The pleasure of God in salvation is then noted. God saw that His creation was good (Genesis 1:31), and He took pleasure in it. It is also His pleasure to bring in the new creation and to give the kingdom to His redeemed people (Psalm 51:18–19; 149:4). What the Lord delights in becomes the delight of those that are with Him (Luke 15:7, 10; John 15:11).

Redemption of His people is something God will delight to do, “with all My heart and all My soul.” We penetrate here into the very core of who God is. Such mercy is not merely peripheral to the nature of God. Six centuries later, Jesus reiterated this aspect of the divine nature when He said, “I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This is the only place in all the four Gospels where Jesus tells us about His heart. And at the one place where He opens up his heart, He says it is “gentle and lowly.”

Are you cowering before the sovereign God of creation? Then remember that He presents Himself to us in the person of the risen Lord Jesus. Your felt inadequacy, your sins, your anxieties—none of these are hindrances. They are the very things to which Jesus is drawn, as you look to Him. Trust Him. Walk with Him. He is a gentle Savior—showing mercy with all His heart and with all His soul.

How do you remember when your faith is challenged, to focus not on how well you believe, but on how well God has acted for you in Jesus?

What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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