“For thus says the Lord:
Your hurt is incurable,
and your wound is grievous.
There is none to uphold your cause,
no medicine for your wound,
no healing for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you;
they care nothing for you;
for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,
the punishment of a merciless foe,
because your guilt is great,
because your sins are flagrant.
Why do you cry out over your hurt?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your guilt is great,
because your sins are flagrant,
I have done these things to you.
Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured,
and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity;
those who plunder you shall be plundered,
and all who prey on you I will make a prey.
For I will restore health to you,
and your wounds I will heal,
declares the Lord,
because they have called you an outcast:
‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’
“Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
Their children shall be as they were of old,
and their congregation shall be established before me,
and I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the Lord.
And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.”
Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this. – Jeremiah 30:12-24 ESV
Their guilt was great. Their sins were flagrant. And their pain was incurable and their suffering, unbearable. The people of Israel found themselves under the hand of God, enduring their well-deserved punishment for their rebellion against Him as their God. He had chosen them and made them His own. He had blessed them and provided for and protected them for generations. He had given them the land of Canaan as their very own possession. He had made them powerful and influential. And in return, they had turned their backs on Him, sharing their affections with false gods and willingly disobeying the covenant they had made with Him. So, God was simply fulfilling what He had said He would do if they broke their part of the covenantal agreement.
“Look! I have set before you today life and prosperity on the one hand, and death and disaster on the other. What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances. Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess. However, if you turn aside and do not obey, but are lured away to worship and serve other gods, I declare to you this very day that you will certainly perish! You will not extend your time in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” – Deuteronomy 30:15-18 NLT
Long before the people of Israel entered the land of Canaan, they had show a propensity to disobey God. Just months after being set free from captivity in Egypt, they had constructed the golden calf and were worshiping it in place of Yahweh, their deliverer. And years later, after 40 years of leading these people through the wilderness, Moses gave them a short speech from his deathbed.
“For I know that after I die you will totally corrupt yourselves and turn away from the path I have commanded you to walk. Disaster will confront you in the days to come because you will act wickedly before the Lord, inciting him to anger because of your actions.” – Deuteronomy 31:29 NLT
Not exactly a rousing vote of confidence. But he would be proven right. And that is exactly the place where the people of Judah find themselves as Jeremiah speaks the words of God to them concerning their current state of affairs. Things were bad. But God lets them know why they are suffering so greatly.
“I have had to punish you
because your sins are many
and your guilt is great.” – Jeremiah 30:15 NLT
But God has good news for them. In spite of their unfaithfulness, God was going to show them favor. He was going to shower them with His blessings once again. But not because they deserved it.
“I will give you back your health
and heal your wounds,” says the Lord. – Jeremiah 30:17 NLT
He was going to bring them back from captivity and restore their fortunes. He was going to bring joy to the land of promise once more. Jerusalem would be rebuilt. The king’s palace would be restored. The people of God would once again occupy the city of God. And much of this was fulfilled when the people of Judah were allowed to return from captivity in Babylon after 70 years in exile. But this would prove to be a partial fulfillment of God’s promise. Because there is a portion of this prediction that has yet to take place.
“They will have their own ruler again,
and he will come from their own people.
I will invite him to approach me,” says the Lord,
“for who would dare to come unless invited?
You will be my people,
and I will be your God.” – Jeremiah 30:21-22 NLT
Israel has no king. There is no descendant of David sitting on the throne of Israel. But God has promised that it will happen. That day is coming. And this King will once again sit on the throne of David, fulfilling the promise that God had made to David generations before.
“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:16 ESV
The prophet Isaiah provides further insight into the nature of this descendant of David who will sit on His throne and rule from Jerusalem.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. – Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT
The amazing thing about all of this is that God was going to bless the people of Israel in spite of them, not because of them. They did not deserve His blessings. They had done nothing to earn His favor. But the apostle Paul reminds us that, as believers in Jesus Christ, and recipients of His grace and mercy made possible through His Son’s death on the cross, we too were undeserving. In fact, we were once enemies of God.
You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. – Colossians 1:21 NLT
…our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies… – Romans 5:10 NLT
And in his gospel account of the life of Jesus, Luke provides us with an encounter that Jesus had in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth.
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” – Luke 4:16-21 NLT
Jesus was and is the Messiah of Israel. He is the descendant of David. And He is the one who will one day fulfill the promises of God revealed to the people of God through Jeremiah. One day, Jesus is going to restore the fortunes of Israel and Judah. He is going to return to earth as the King of Israel. He is going to reign from David’s throne located in Jerusalem, the city of God. He will bring healing to Israel. He will give sight to the spiritually blind. He will grant freedom to those trapped in slavery to sin. He will release those burdened by oppression and weighed down by sin and guilt. And He will rule with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
In the meantime, Jeremiah reminds the people of Judah and Israel:
Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm,
a driving wind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not diminish
until it has finished all he has planned.
In the days to come
you will understand all this. – Jeremiah 30:23-24 NLT
One day they will understand. That is why God had Jeremiah put all these words on a scroll. He wanted them recorded for posterity. So that one day, the people of God could look back and be reminded that all that had happened had been the divine will of God Almighty. Their punishment and their ultimate restoration were all the result of the goodness, grace and mercy of God.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.