Restoration of Israel as Presented by the Prophet Jeremiah: Part 2
The continuation of the subject with the Prophecy of Isaiah already done. Every Passage Examined
JEREMIAH – PART 2
Jeremiah 23:1 – “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!’ declares the LORD. Jer 23:2 Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: ‘You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them. Behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,’ declares the LORD. Jer 23:3 ‘Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. Jer 23:4 I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the LORD.
As is often the case in prophetic writing, the problem is put, and then God’s future plan will supplant that. Here the problem is false shepherds (and that would include priests, elders, and prophets, and even the king), and God’s charge against them is that they have destroyed and scattered the sheep because they have not cared for them. They have been committing evil deeds, but God will hold them accountable for that. Leadership always carries great responsibility, and these false shepherds failed. How many likewise are failing in the churches? I like the way the NASB expresses verse 2. God will attend to the betrayers of His flock because they have not attended to the flock.
In verse 3, God will step into human history and gather all those scattered sheep, those who are redeemed and saved in the Tribulation, gathering them from all countries. He will bring them back to Israel (Isaiah focuses on that a lot), multiply them and make them fruitful. It was God who had driven them from their homeland because of their unrepentant idolatry, and it is God who will gather them because of His great love. Once gathered, He will appoint true and faithful shepherds so that no more will the sheep be afraid, terrified and missing. Those shepherds will be under-shepherds because the Lord is the Shepherd of the sheep, true both for the Church and Israel.
Jeremiah 23:5 – “Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He will reign as king and act wisely, and do justice and righteousness in the land. Jer 23:6 In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely, and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’ Jer 23:7 Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when they will no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ Jer 23:8 but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.”
Verse 5. This is future with the indicator introducing the verse. It will not happen until the King of Kings and Lord of Lords comes to execute judgement on Israel’s enemies, and then claims the earthly throne of His father David and reigns as King over the whole earth from Jerusalem – Zech 14:9 “And the LORD will be king over all the earth. In that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.”
Zech 14:17 “And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.” When Jesus came the first time, He came as the prophecy of Zechariah indicated, but He came in rejection, and there was a presentation on Palm Sunday, but this was but a glimmer of the glorious coming that happens at the Second Coming.
Zech 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you. He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus will come again and enter Jerusalem, and He will be received as the rightful King. There is an erroneous thought going around that it is David who returns to reign, and it comes from this verse: Jer 30:9 “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” Jesus has descended from David, and ascends David’s throne. I have stated previously in Isaiah and already in Jeremiah how important “justice” and “righteousness” are.
There is an amazing study in “The Branch” as it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is not the time for that study, but I want to give the other 3 verses in that with the one in Jer 23:5 already mentioned. Isa 4:2 “In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel,” and Zech 3:8 “Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you – indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.” Zech 6:12 “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is, and He will build the temple of the LORD.’” The study on the Branch will be done in Jeremiah chapter 33 and verse 15.
Verse 6. This begins with “In His days,” and verse 5 confirms the “His.” It is The Branch. The Branch will save Judah, cause it to dwell securely, and His Name will be “The LORD our righteousness.” Of course, all these will be in the restoration blessings. The righteous nature of the people and the land will reflect the righteousness of their Branch King.
Verses 7-8. The backward look will be replaced by the present conditions. Whereas once the Jews looked to Moses in Egypt as their deliverance to bring them to the promised land, so in the redemption days of Israel, it will be their Messiah who will bring back the descendants from all over the world. Living on their own soil is so definite, and you can imagine their feet walking on their own soil. This glorious event will happen but after the Lord Jesus actually places His feet on the Mount of Olives, which will split in two. It is His feet that prepare the position for the nation’s feet.
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you, Jer 29:13 and you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer 29:14 I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”
Verse 11. This passage sits in the context promise of the return from Babylon – Jer 29:10 “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” Then follow the verses we are considering, but this prophecy goes way beyond the Babylon return. In the terrible days of Israel’s sin, God had plans for them, but they were the plans of disaster. Those plans played out, and it meant defeat by enemies, famine, hardship, subjugation and exile and dispersion. However, God has other plans and He well knows them, and they are plans that relate to the nation’s good, to its welfare, to its future and to its hope.
Isn’t it wonderful when there is a bright hope in our future vision, when we know we are going to enter into glory and peace and blessing, not into uncertainty and conflict and every hopeless situation? That is the difference in “The Two Ways” – the way of righteousness and the ways of destruction (Psalm 1 considers that). The Church has that hope and looks out for it. Israel has that hope but currently does not realize it.
Verses 12-14. Contained here is a universal truth that God hears all those who seek Him and call on Him in all circumstances, but these verses specifically have application to Israel in the time of its restoration. After the removal of the Church, and when God again turns His attention to the lost sheep of Israel, then a remarkable turning begins to happen. The Jews will again seek their God, and God will respond. They will call on Him and pray to Him because the times will be very hard ones, being set in the Tribulation years. God will listen to their prayers, but they will only find Him when the seeking is done in sincerity with their “full heart,” for God will demand nothing less. These will be the days of total commitment and surrender. The Tribulation will not be a time for sham or pretense; there must be total genuineness of heart in searching for God.
The Lord will respond and will be found by His searching people, and three promises ensue. He will restore their fortunes, and this is not a great mountain of gold. It is the great promise of communion with God in the midst, in the theocracy of God as it was always intended. Secondly, He will gather them from all the nations of the world to where He had driven them in judgment, and thirdly, He will settle them in the land of promise, in that land from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Chapters 30 and 31 are crucial in the restoration of Israel in the book of Jeremiah. Chapter 31 is one of the most important references in all of scripture. Chapter 33 is another vital chapter.
Jeremiah 30:1 – “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Jer 30:2 ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book, Jer 30:3 for behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’
Jer 30:4 ‘Now these are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, Jer 30:5 ‘For thus says the LORD, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Jer 30:6 Ask now, and see, if a male can give birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth, and why have all faces turned pale? Jer 30:7 Alas! for that day is great. There is none like it, and it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it, Jer 30:8 and it shall come about on that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds, and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves.”
Verses 1-3. This prophecy is so important that Jeremiah is instructed to write it down in a book (a scroll in those days). Verse 3 states almost the same as the previous section does, the one 29:12-14, a promise of restoration and settlement in their land.
Verses 4-8. Some say this is a description of the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, but the context does not allow that. Of course, certain events can be forerunners or hints of a future calamity, and that may be so here as a wisp of “the great one.” That great one is the Great Tribulation that is on the horizon, for the Rapture of the Church looks so close.
We examine the passage. We begin with terror and dread and an absence of peace. The men are in turmoil as if in labor pains, and all faces are pale. Great calamity is overtaking the nation, and that could have been also under Nebuchadnezzar and later under Titus in AD 70, but verse 7 gives the proper context. It is the great day, in fact, the great day of His wrath over all the earth, but for the Jews, a special phrase is entered for them – “the time of Jacob’s distress” or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” as it is more commonly termed.
There is some difference of opinion as to what this is, with some saying it is the whole of the Tribulation viewed in respect of Israel based on the whole night of Jacob’s wrestling with God before the victory came. Others, and I think the majority, say this is the intensity of Jacob’s trouble that night, the most severe part, and therefore it relates to the second half of the Tribulation, beginning with the erection of the abomination in the Temple, the very time when the Lord would tell His Jewish Tribulation saints to flee from Jerusalem immediately when they saw this event (Matt 24). That is the last three and a half years, the 1,260 days (42 months). In verse 7, the term, “there is none like it,” means it must be like no other time in history and nothing can equal it, so it must be set in the Tribulation.
Verse 8. Let us look at this term – “I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds” as it is the turning point and the solution to Israel’s great distress. What does “his” and “their” mean? This is how I see it. The description has its fulfilment at Armageddon, but it is not just one single event leading to it. For the last half of the tribulation, the world leader = Antichrist will be the satanic enemy of Israel and especially of the Jewish believers who are fleeing Jerusalem. This is where Revelation 12 applies, that chapter being God’s protection for His own from Satan.
Additionally, the nations of the world have their armies in Israel and particularly in the assault against Jerusalem. Zechariah describes that this way – Zech 12:3 “And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” AND Zech 14:2 “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.”
The forces in Israel are from three groupings. There are those who belong to Antichrist and the False Prophet who will be in the Valley of Jezreel (Har Mediggo); Gog and Magog in the Kidron Valley and on the mountains, and they will have Jerusalem by the neck (the army of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and Zechariah above); the Kings of the east who have gathered (probably the armies of Asia, especially China, Japan and Korea area). Jerusalem will be in dire straits, but then, suddenly, this happens – Zech 14:3 “Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.” It is then the Lord of Lords and King of Kings delivers His people and “breaks his yoke” (Antichrist) and “tears off their bonds” (Nations). Messiah delivers His people!
Jeremiah 30:9 – “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Jer 30:10 Fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘and do not be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity, and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid. Jer 30:11 For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you, for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely, but I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished.”
Verse 9. Some have made a problem of this verse where there is none. They say that David will reign again over his people. That is wrong. This is the core of the verse: “shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king.” A king reigns, we know that, and the Zechariah verse states this – 14:9 “And the LORD will be King over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.” There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ will reign as the Millennial King, so when it says, “and will serve David their king” the reference must be to David’s greater Son, the Messiah. “Shall serve the LORD their God” is equally true. They will also serve the Lord their God.
Now, is Jesus God? Most definitely He is. They shall serve the LORD (Jehovah) their God. This is one and the same. They will serve their Messiah the King. Remember, “the LORD will be the only ONE and HIS Name the only ONE.”
Verses 10-11. It is an error to say that verse 10 was fulfilled with the return of the Jews after the Babylonian captivity. In fact, it is short-sighted, to say the least, because verse 10 says they will be quiet and at ease, and no one will make them afraid. Just think! No sooner had the exiles returned in the time of Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai and Zechariah that work on the temple restoration ceased because of their enemies threatening them. Read that in Haggai chapter 1. All through that period right up to the birth of Christ, the Jews had trouble from all the nations, including the time of the Maccabees. The nation had no rest after they returned from their captivity.
The verse will have its fulfillment in the restoration of Israel at the start of the Millennium. Then Israel will have everlasting peace and be at ease with enemies. Verse 11. This is an interesting verse stating God will punish all the nations among whom the Jews were scattered, bringing about their destruction. This would link in with Armageddon and the often-quoted Zechariah verse – Zech 12:9 “And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
God will not destroy Israel completely (which means some destruction) and will punish the Jews in the Tribulation, to chastise them, and this is necessary to bring them to repentance, that they will come through as pure gold, the redeemed saints of the Lord, refined and unadulterated. Zechariah mentions two-thirds will be cut off, and the one-third is the remnant that is refined. It is very possible that those numbers are generic in terms of a remnant. The Hebrew system of numbering is rather complex.
END OF PART 2: RESTORATION OF ISRAEL FROM JEREMIAH