And Now the Good News.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘When I bring Israel home again from captivity and restore their fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace reconstructed as before. There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people, not diminish them; I will honor them, not despise them.'” – Jeremiah 30:18-19 NLT
Not everything Jeremiah had to say was bad news. Occasionally, he got the opportunity to tell the people something that would give them hope. God gave him a message to share spoke of future restoration. Yes, God was going to punish them for their sin, because He had to. God must deal with sin. He cannot overlook it or ignore it. He told them, “For I am with you and will save you, I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished” (Jeremiah 30:11 NLT). God was going to discipline the, but with justice, and He would not completely destroy them. In fact, He promised to return them to the land of Canaan again from captivity. And He did – after 70 years of exile in Babylon, the people of Judah did return to the land. But there are some aspects of God’s promise that don’t seem to have been fulfilled. For instance, He says that He will restore their fortunes and that Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins, including the palace. It will be restored to its original splendor. This rebuilding would have to include the Temple, a central fixture in the holy city of Jerusalem. And the Temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. And while the city and the Temple would be rebuilt and restored under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah after the people were able to return from captivity, the city never regained its original splendor. Jerusalem would never be the showplace that Solomon had made it. It would be a shadow of its former glory.
And God also promises to prosper and multiply them. He says He will establish them as a nation and punish anyone who hurts them. He will give them their own king, one who would be a Hebrew and not a foreigner. Yet, has any of this taken place? Were the people of Judah ever to have a king again? From the time of their return until the time of Christ, they would live under constant control of another nation. Even after their return from exile, they were little more than vassals to the Babylonians. And eventually they would live under the iron fist of Rome, having no king of their own. No descendant of David would sit on their throne. And today, Jerusalem is far from the spectacular city that Solomon had constructed. The palace does not exist and the site of the Temple is occupied by a mosque. So what is Jeremiah telling the people? When will all this be fulfilled? The answer is: In the future. There are aspects of God’s promise to the people that had a more immediate fulfillment. They did return from captivity. They did rebuild the city and the Temple under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. They did occupy the land once again. But they would also be forced from the land again. Israel’s history has been filled with the constant threat of annihilation at the hands of those who despise them. Even today, the nation of Israel is surrounded by nations who are determined to destroy them. Their enemies are many. And they have no king. Yet God promised that they would have their own ruler again and he would be one of their own. So that promise has to be in the future, and yet unfulfilled. It is a future promise of the millennial kingdom. The day is coming when Christ will return and He will come to rule in Jerusalem and sit on the throne of David. He will restore the nation of Jerusalem to its former glory and splendor. And He will reign in righteousness and truth over the people of Israel and the world. At that time, God says, “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 30:22 NLT).
There are things yet to happen that God has promised. He is not done yet. Israel is a nation that no longer worships God. They worship their military and their scientific knowledge. They worship their ingenuity and their prosperity, but not God. When their Messiah came, they rejected Him, and they continue to do so to this day. But the day is coming when God will return them to the land, but more importantly, He will return their hearts to Him. He will restore them to a right relationship with Him, and the Messiah they rejected will reign as their King forever.
Father, don’t let us lose sight of Your bigger redemptive plan. You have so much in store for this world and for Your people. You have promises that have yet to be fulfilled and You will see to it that they happen, just as You said they will. There is a day coming and when it comes, You will bring to completion Your divine plan for the redemption and restoration of this world. Thank You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men