Doom & Deliverance
1. (I usually publish the [Sunday] worship sermon for each week, but this time I am posting a shorter message I gave in prayer meeting that took place this past November 24.)
<Verses One Through Three>
2. In chapters thirty and thirty-one prophecies of deliverance are collected, which were spoken in various time periods. Verses one through three give the introduction to this. It says in the text here, "Write in a scroll the words I give you, leaving nothing out," (verse two). Because what had to be written is something that is supposed to be heard over and again. Because they are words that should be addressed to [people] through out time. We will understand it by looking at a number of prophecies recorded through out chapter thirty. In many cases the prophecies themselves are not clearly connected to an historical event. The messages which point to an historical setting are not left to us in a clear cut way. In other words, in spite of the fact that they are words spoken at one time in a specific situation, they do show forth the will of God that has crossed the ages.
3. The main message is summarized as follows. "Look, the day is coming when I will restore my people, the prosperity of Israel and Judah, says the Lord. The Lord says, I will lead them back to the land I gave their forefathers and I will make them possess it," (verse three). Compare this with, for example, chapter twenty-eight beginning with verse two. "The God of Israel, the Lord of Hosts thus says, 'I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon," (28:2). This is a prophecy of Hananiah. This same Hananiah in the book of Jeremiah is described as a false prophet. But, the words that resemble the messages of the false prophets that troubled Jeremiah appear in chapter thirty, which we read today, and in other places. Thus, we realize that a key to understanding this passage is [to know] the differences between the salvation that the false prophets spoke of and the salvation recorded here and its message concerning that salvation.
<Verses Four Through Seven>
4. So what we notice is that salvation and the prophecy of restoration
appeared along with messages on the doom of Israel. In verse four,
first it speaks on the doom the people of God experienced. The Lord
says. "It is doom, on that day, on that great day, it will be like
no other," (verse seven). This is a prophecy of the day of the Lord
as a judgment. This kind of message can be found across the span
of time in the messages of the other prophets, like Amos and Joel.
That is to say, the sufferings that the Israelites encountered are tied
to the prophecies of warning and judgment which were repeatedly given by
them. It is about the judgment of God against Israel's sin.
The suffering of the captivity should not be mistaken for defeat or bad
luck. They should first recognize it was their own sin. Then,
the words in verse seven that "But, Jacob will be delivered out from here"
begin to take on significance.
<Verses Eight Through Nine>
5. If "Jacob will be delivered out from here" is understood that way, then it would be expected that God's work of salvation would lead the people to submission. Unless the sins of unbelief and disobedience are recognized, even though set free from their difficulties, they would never be set free from the sins of disobedience and infidelity. The reason God broke the yoke and set their chains loose was so they would render submission under freedom. Therefore, it isn't just speaking on submission, but says that "they might serve the Lord their God and king David whom I have established," (verse nine). This word "yoke" appeared already in verse twenty-seven. There Jeremiah said to the messengers from various nations and to king Zedekiah to "bear the yoke upon them." For it was a God given yoke. In recognizing that it was a God given yoke, only those who bear it could understand the significance that God would crush it. It was fundamentally different in implication from what Hananiah in chapter twenty-eight had said of an easy deliverance that God would separate the yoke from Jeremiah's neck and crush it.
<Verses Ten Through Eleven>
6. God spoke of salvation from captivity with the purpose that they would render obedience. "O my servant Jacob, don't be afraid, says the Lord. O Israel, don't tremble. Look! I will deliver you out from the distant lands and your descendants from the land of captivity. Jacob will return and live peacefully. No one will threaten them," (verse ten). Thus, we come to understand that the hardships, which lead them to obedience to God and which was first met in the judgment of God was never meant to destroy the race. The Lord says it was just for chastisement. "But, you will never be wiped out. I will chasten you righteously. I will not keep punishing you," (verse eleven). God truly chastens those he loves.
<Verses Twelve Through Fifteen>
7. God's chastening certainly is frequently harsh. It says, "Since your evil is very great and your sin is abundant, I will overthrow you with an attack from the enemy and chasten you severely," (verse fourteen). God repeats the reason in verses fourteen and fifteen why they met with this chastening. It is so they would understand God's purposes. On the one hand, when they were chastened and wounded like this, it said, "All your lovers forgot you and don't care." "Lovers" means the other countries Israel depended upon. It was made clear all of a sudden that they couldn't trust in all the things they used to trust in besides God. Thus their unbelief and rebellion against God became clear. While "the lovers" they trusted in no longer were in partnership or cared, we see here that there is One very mindful of the wounds of Israel. It is the Lord himself who chastened them. It was the Lord God himself who disciplined them and was more mindful than anyone else of their suffering from chastisement.
<Verses Sixteen Through Seventeen>
8. Therefore, the chastening Lord is at the same time a healing Lord. "Well now, I will heal your hurts and mend your brokenness says the Lord. The peoples will call you "outcasts" and say "the uncared for Zion," (verse seventeen). If seen from a human perspective they may have seemed forsaken and cast off. They looked like they were "uncared for" no matter who did the looking. However, the Lord did not forsake them. The Lord was involved. They were not "uncared for." The Lord was their partner. The Lord couldn't be heartless towards his own people. If the Lord didn't care, he would never have disciplined them. The Lord wants his people to turn to God. The Lord wants saved people to live in obedience according to faith.