Restoration of Israel as Presented by the Prophet Jeremiah: Part 1
The continuation of the subject with the Prophecy of Isaiah already done. Every Passage Examined
JEREMIAH – PART 1
INTRODUCTION: Almost every Old Testament prophet mentions the RESTORATION OF ISRAEL in his writings, and some prophets major on that theme, particularly Hosea, Zechariah, Joel, Haggai, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Israel has had a topsy-turvy history in its relationship with the Lord, and nationally they never learned from their mistakes. It was like a constant round-a-bout of sin, partial repentance, restoration, and then sin again. Israel is just so typical of the instability that is part of the fallen nature, and that problem can only be overcome by the work of the Spirit of God. That is why the outpouring of the Spirit on the nation after the Tribulation gets a lot of mention, and we shall see that.
God made large and wonderful promises to Abraham, and even in the darkest periods of national history, those promises were never withdrawn; for God loves this people more than we can understand. He loves this sinful, rebellious people, and they have been judged for their sin. When they lived in the land after exiting Egypt, if they sinned, God allowed their enemies to come, and they suffered. Then when they turned to recognize God, He delivered them, only to have the whole cycle happen again. This was seen in the time of the Judges, who were deliverers God gave His people, and beyond that even, until God said, “Enough is enough.”
It was at that juncture that God gave them over to their own desire, and they went into captivity.
Israel adopted idolatry almost worse than the surrounding nations who practiced it. In fact, so bad was it that Hosea had to say (in Hos 4:17), “Ephraim is joined to idols; Let him alone.” That was the Northern Kingdom after the division of Jeroboam, but later on, Judah was just as bad.
God promised captivity for the nation over and over again because of their sin, and then it happened: Israel going to Assyria, and Judah going to Babylon. Even though there were partial returns to the land of Israel, it was always under foreign domination right up until 1948. Promises of restoration always looked dim from the human perspective, but God’s promises will not fail, and this people will be brought into amazing blessing. Unlike the Church, which is the heavenly people, Israel’s promises are in the land and will always be in the land.
There have been three returns/restorations for Israel regarding the nation, but none of those qualify for the proper restoration God has planned for the nation. Those three are – the return to the promised land after 450 years in Egypt; the return to Jerusalem with Ezra, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah after the Babylonian captivity; and the return to Palestine as a nation in 1947/48. We have completed the restoration passages from Isaiah and now turn to Jeremiah. There is extremely important material in this prophet’s dealing with Israel’s Restoration!
THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH – PART 1
Jeremiah 3:14 – “Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’ Jer 3:15 Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding, Jer 3:16 and it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘they shall say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD,’ and it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again.
Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD. Nor shall they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. Jer 3:18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.”
The first restoration passage in Jeremiah is another remarkable one. Jeremiah seems to me to be very compassionate towards his own people and so excited about their restoration, as we see when we get to the middle sections of the book. In the passage before us, we have a string of prophecies that still barely touch on the multitude of blessings that the Lord will fulfill for His earthly people in the coming day. The preterists and the subscribers to Replacement Theology reject the future blessings of Israel and place all these prophecies either at the return from the Babylonian captivity, or simply transfer them all to the Church. They are deniers of God’s earthly people.
Verse 14. A constant theme of prophetic writers is the call to repentance of wayward, adulterous Israel, and that was constant all through their history. In this verse, the faithless nation is addressed, but it also features God’s intervention and call. This is the calling of the remnant, and in Isaiah, we saw frequent references to the remnant. In the Tribulation, God calls His earthly people by way of repentance and faith when they respond to the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, and these will be known as the Jewish saints. The call for repentance is worldwide, not just from those in Israel.
Upon His return at the Second Coming, the Lord will gather them from all over — some from this city, some from a family, etc. — and He restores them to Zion. Isaiah frequently deals with this “calling and transport home,” and we looked at those passages in his prophecy earlier. The comment in the verse “for I am a master to you” simply means “the LORD is their Ruler.” In fact, it is the divine Messiah who is speaking. The irony was that, in Jeremiah’s time, the people had their master and their Lord, and it was Baal, for that word means “master” or “lord.” False gods are all counterfeit. The true LORD will call His people home at the start of the Millennium.
Verse 15. When we think into this verse, something of great wonder arises. God will give the people true shepherds, a position they rarely had in their history. In fact, after the return from Babylon, they still could not get it right because both Ezekiel and Malachi are very scathing about the shepherds and priests who fed off the people and who were corrupt. It was a disgrace, but in the Millennial Kingdom, the shepherds will be true.
Today, if only our leaders in the government and churches were true! It will not happen this side of glory. The reason it does not happen now is actually stated in this verse: “shepherds after My own heart.” Could it be said of any of us, “They are leaders after God’s own heart”? God testified that of King David in 1Sam 13:14: “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” That is also quoted in Acts 13:22, and he is the only one in the Bible to whom that is attributed.
Now, the wonder in this verse is what it says about these shepherds, which is this: “who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.”
What we know is that the Lord will be in their very midst in Jerusalem as King over the whole earth, but there is still a need to instruct the redeemed saints about the Lord. They are going to learn knowledge (facts, wisdom) and understanding (how to live, and all about the Messianic Kingdom). These shepherds will instruct a willing audience who crave to be fed, unlike a number of places today when people fall asleep in instruction or the message (or maybe that is the fault of the speaker/minister/pastor who feeds dried up weeds). I wonder if it is possible that a similar thing will apply to us post-Rapture where shepherds might feed us as well.
Verse 16. Faith gives way to sight. The verse says there is no need of the Ark of the covenant, and that is because the Lord is in the midst of them. The Ark with its mercy seat is the fullest representation of Christ in the Old Testament, a study too large to do here, full of teaching and application, but it represented the LORD in the midst of Israel. God was in the midst of His people. When the redeemed Jews are gathered to Zion, there is no need of any Ark because the Lord will dwell in their very midst in His actual Divine Presence.
Something of the same applies to us, too, because in the Lord’s Supper, it is “until He comes”; for when He does come, He will be forever in the very midst of His Church.
Verse 17. Yet again, we have another name for Jerusalem, which is “The Throne of the LORD,” for the whole world will see it, and Jerusalem will be its focus. The nations will want to gather there, and indeed representatives go yearly for the Feast of Booths (Zech chapter 14). How wonderful it will be when Israel will walk and live before God in purity and dependence, not in stubbornness of heart or rebellion. They will be true to the Lord of Hosts. In Isaiah, we often mentioned the special phrase “In that day” or “At that time” or “In those days” that spoke of the time way ahead, meaning at the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium, even right through the Millennium; we need to note that phrase carefully in the prophets. It was used by many of the prophets, projecting way beyond their own time.
Verse 18. The verse speaks of unity that was unthinkable between Samaria and Judah in the time of the prophets. God’s people will be one in that day, blessed and unified in their Messiah. “From the north” may be a reference to the Northern Kingdom of Samaria, or even wider such as from all over the world. The fact that the prophet states “the house of Judah” and “the house of Israel” means that God has not abandoned any of them.
Israel (then in Jeremiah’s time, Ephraim, even though that kingdom had finished about 135 years earlier), though scattered, God will bring together again His people the Jews, all those who were once Israel and Judah.
Jeremiah 4:1 – “If you will return, O Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘then you should return to Me, and if you will put away your detested things from My presence, and will not waver, Jer 4:2 and you will swear, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, ‘As the LORD lives,’ then the nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Him they will glory.”
Verse 1 begins with a conditional conjunction – IF. The conditional return in heart happens in the Great Tribulation. Chapter 4 continues from the previous chapter where in verse 22, Jehovah appeals to the nation with this invitation, “Return, O faithless sons. I will heal your faithlessness.” Even on the eve of their deportment to Babylon, at least those who survived, the Lord still held out the hand of forgiveness. Also, in verse 22, we saw the people’s response, but we know it could not have come from Judah in Jeremiah’s time, for they never did repent. The confession there will be enacted in the Tribulation when God takes up the Jews again after the times of the Gentiles has finished with the Rapture of His Bride, the Church. Jehovah calls His wife back to Himself again, and she will respond, something the Jews have not done for at least the last 2,500 years.
After the response of the people returning to the Lord, the Lord then spells out a number of conditions governing that return, and there are 3 or 4 of these.
It all begins with the first “IF” of verse 1, and these are serious conditions because, in the Tribulation period, it will not be a time for pretend commitment. To be true to the Messiah in those days may mean forfeiting your life, as saints are hunted down and killed for their testimony. Also, there must be steadfastness until the end, as we see in Matthew 24:12-13, “and because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
In verse 2, three words are significant – truth, righteousness, justice. They are the three qualities God demands of the repentant Jews, not only in the time of Jeremiah, but also it will pertain to the Jews in the Tribulation. In a careful reading of all the prophets, you cannot help but notice that these three virtues were the ones constantly highlighted over and over again, and upheld by the prophets; for Israel sadly lacked them, and trashed God’s truth, and lived unrighteously in idolatry, and showed no justice, and took bribes and thrived on unjust judges. It is those matters that must be addressed, and God will have truth, righteousness and justice in His people Israel in their day of restoration. That is why He lets them know.
In Jeremiah’s time, they did not repent and return, and they had so much to turn from that they were unwilling, and scorned the prophet’s message, and even persecuted him. These three words are special qualities especially noticed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He was the Truth: “I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE.” He was the Righteous One, and as such, it was then possible for Him to die for the ungodly, the righteousness for the unrighteousness – Acts 7:52 “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? and they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.” 2Cor 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin [the Righteous One] to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The last one is justice; He is the Just One – 1Pet 3:18 “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Because those aspects were especially known in our Lord, then they must be also reflected in us. We must pursue the truth and The Truth. We must live righteously in this world. We must learn of justice through God’s own word.
In verse 2 of our passage, Jeremiah inserts “then,” which is most important, and he goes on to say, “then the nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Him they will glory.” We must look carefully at the sequence here because it is only after God’s people are walking correctly that anyone will notice and take heed. When the Jews, and even the Christians, are walking openly in truth, righteousness and justice, only then will that have the correct effect on the nations. In the Millennium, people will come into Israel yearly. They will know the presence of the Lord there and see His righteous people, the redeemed Jews. All will be glorious.
Jeremiah 16:21 – “Therefore behold, I am going to make them know – This time I will make them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My name is the LORD.”
This is a single verse, but from Isaiah, you may remember we looked at the way the prophets jumped from one time period to another abruptly from verse to verse. We have this time jump here, for the verse before ours is this – Jer 16:20 “Can man make gods for himself? Yet they are not gods!” (which is set in Jeremiah’s current time); and the verse after ours is Jer 17:1 “The sin of Judah is written down with an iron stylus; with a diamond point it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars . . .” (which is back to Jeremiah’s own time).
Verse 21. Isn’t it wonderful that it is God who will be taking the initiative in the restoration of His people? He will make them know. They are going to know His power and His might, and when they know and recognize that, then they will know the Lord their God. They will know that by repentance, and all this happens in the Tribulation; for it is then they will see the wrath of God and be conscious then that this is His power and might, as their fathers did when they left Egypt so long ago in God’s deliverance. It will be the step of their deliverance and restoration in the coming day. This time they will know His power and might because it is unleashed at Armageddon, and they will see it in His coming to the Mount of Olives. They will know their Messiah in that day. His name is Jehovah.
END OF PART 1 RESTORATION OF ISRAEL FROM JEREMIAH