The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: They are coming in to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.
“Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:
“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord.” – Jeremiah 33:1-13 ESV
While Jeremiah was still locked up by Zedekiah, God visited Him a second time. And this time, He commands Jeremiah to pray to Him and promises to answer when he does.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” – Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
The term, “hidden things” in the Hebrew is a single word that is most often used to refer to the defensive capabilities of a city. It can actually be translate as “fortified” or “inaccessible”. It is somewhat ironic that God uses this word, because it can mean the walls of a city that are impenetrable. Here was Jerusalem, surrounded by Babylonian troops, with siege walls and ramparts set up all around its perimeter, and it’s fall eminent. But God said He was going to tell Jeremiah things that, unlike the walls of Jerusalem, were impenetrable or unknowable. Man could lay siege to God, demanding to know His will and His ways, but unless God determined to reveal His mysteries, man would remain ignorant and in the dark. The prophet, Isaiah, also recorded the words of God declaring His plan to reveal new and hidden things.
“From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago;
before today you have never heard of them,
lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.” – Isaiah 48:6-8 ESV
Unless God makes Himself known to man, He remains unknowable.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! – Romans 11:33 NLT
Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.
– Job 36:26 ESV
He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT
God is unknowable, unless He chooses to make Himself known. While He has revealed His divine nature through His creation and men are without excuse who refuse to acknowledge His presence, they can only know Him in a limited sense. God had chosen to reveal Himself more intimately and deeply to the Israelites. He had chosen them as His own and revealed Himself to them in incredible ways. But they had chosen to reject Him and treat their relationship with him with disdain. So, now God was going to give Jeremiah a glimpse into the unknown, the hidden things of God. He was going to reveal to His prophet the incredible future of Israel and Judah. While He was going to bring punishment on them for their sins and allow the Babylonians to defeat them, He said:
“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion.” – Jeremiah 33:6-8 NLT
God was going to do something remarkable and unbelievable. Just when things appeared to be catastrophic and the fate of Judah was sealed, God promised that their future would be bright. They would experience hope and healing.
“…in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord.” – Jeremiah 33:10-11 NLT
The future. We can’t see it. We can only hope for it. Oh, we can worry about it and attempt to do things that we think will improve or impact it, but when all is said and done, we have very little influence over how the future will turn out. There are far too many things that can derail our plans and destroy our best intentions. But God knows the future. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same to Him. He is not bound by time. And His plans for the future are not speculative, but predetermined. They will happen just as He has planned them. No wishful thinking. No hoping for a good outcome. What God says will happen, will happen, with the same degree of certainty as if it had already taken place. And we know from history, that the people of Judah did return to the land, seventy years later, just as God had said they would. So, we can also know that His plans for His as-yet-fulfilled promises regarding their future will also take place. He has proven Himself trustworthy and faithful. And one of the things God had in store for the nation of Judah was the future coming of the Messiah, the descendant of David. It would be hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on the scene. And when He came, He brought with Him the revelation of God’s plan for mankind: Salvation from sin and restoration to a right relationship with Him. Sadly, the people of Judah did not receive Him when He came.
The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children—children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. – John 1:9-13 NLT
But as John reveals just a few verses later, Jesus came to make God known and to reveal yet another impenetrable mystery regarding God’s plans for mankind.
No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. – John 1:18 NLT
And John would later declare the true nature of Jesus’ arrival on earth.
Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29 NLT
God’s ways are beyond finding out. There was no way Jeremiah could know that God had a rich and fruitful future in store for the people of Judah. God had to tell Him. And there was certainly no way that Jeremiah could have known that one day God would send His Son, as a man, born to a woman from the tribe of Judah, who would die for the sins of men. It was a mystery. But in time, God revealed His plan by sending His Son. And His Son revealed the Father, proving the incredible love of God for sinful men. Hope and healing were going to come, but in a form that no man could have envisioned, including Jeremiah. For Jeremiah, sitting in jail as the Babylonians laid siege to his beloved city of Jerusalem, the future looked grim. But God was revealing something mysterious and unknowable to mere mortals: His unstoppable, unwavering plan for the world He had created. It’s important to note that God opened up His address to Jeremiah by describing Himself as “the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it” (Jeremiah 33:2 ESV). The God who created was going to recreate. The God who spoke light into darkness was going to send the true light into the darkness of man’s sin. Hope and healing are always in God’s hands. He is the only source for what mankind really needs. And as bleak as things may appear, we can rest in the knowledge that God has plans for us – “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).
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.