Monday, April 21, 2014

CCLVI – Jeremiah 30-34

Unfortunately for Jeremiah, the times and circumstances called for him to be somewhat of a prophet of gloom and doom for his people.  But he also had the opportunity to be a prophet of hope and happiness.  God had told Jeremiah that 1. Judah would be taken captive, 2. They would be held in captivity for seventy years, and 3. They would get to return to Judah and have an opportunity to have restored fellowship with God.  As mentioned before, Jeremiah uses a wide variety of writing styles, depending upon his particular message, his audience, his mood, and/or the circumstances of the moment.  In chapters 30 and 31 Jeremiah is speaking of the restoration, and he is writing in poetic form.  These two chapters plus the next two are considered Jeremiah’s finest writing and are commonly referred to by theologians as “Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation”.

 Chapters 30 and 31 – The Restoration of Israel

I would say Jeremiah is in a good mood when he penned this series of poems.  I say that because of the writing style and the subject which is God’s restoration of Israel back to the Promised Land.  As early as verse 3 we see God saying not "if", but “when” I will bring them back.  He goes on to say in verse 8 that the bonds of captivity and slavery will be broken.  In the next verse he says God will save you out of a “distant place”.  Additionally in chapter 30 God promises He will vindicate Israel by punishing their oppressors.  God assures them that they will be given a chance to become God’s special people again.  Chapter 31 is a continuation of God’s assurance of redemption.  He promises that “By His Hand”, they will return.  Although you might find chapter 31 a bit lengthy, it does cover quite a bit, and if you like poetry, you should find the reading enjoyable.

Chapter 32 – A Demonstration of Faith

An interesting chapter.  God instructs Jeremiah to purchase some land.  He bought land in his hometown of Anathoth.  One would consider it rather strange timing since all of Judah was about to be overrun by Babylonians.  That was according to Jeremiah’s own words of prophesy.  But Jeremiah was buying this land to demonstrate faith that God was going to bring His people back.

Chapter 33 – Continuing the Promise of Restoration

The first twelve verses speak of the restoration in a bit more detail, being more specific in God actually healing the land when the Israelites return.  He says he will restore the land to its former glory, replenishing the crops and herds, thus returning it to its former position of prosperity.  Then in the remaining verses of chapter 33, God speaks through Jeremiah of picking back up with the covenant between Him and Israel.  He goes on to speak of providing a righteous “Branch” from the Davidic lineage (Christ).

Chapter 34 – Warning to Zedekiah

We have concluded in chapter 33 Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation.  In chapter 34 we skip to a different time again.  Through forty years, God through Jeremiah warned five kings of Judah.  None besides Josiah took him seriously.  In the first seven verses of this chapter Jeremiah tells how he has warned Zedekiah repeatedly.  He told him that his fate and the fate of Judah was sealed.  Anything Zedekiah would choose to do at this point would not change Israel’s destiny.  {In 52:8-11 is recorded the tragedy that befell Zedekiah.  He was forced to witness the killing of his sons.  Then Zedekiah’s eyes were put out by the Babylonians as they were pillaging Jerusalem.}

I’ll end this post with somewhat of an unusual story told in verses 8-22 in chapter 34.  This seems to come out of the middle of nowhere.  Back in Exodus and Deuteronomy the Mosaic Law provided for the release of fellow Hebrew slaves.  However, apparently this law had been ignored for quite some time in the land of Judah and Israel.  I’m not certain what possessed Zedekiah to do this so suddenly, but he as king decreed that all manservants and maidservants were to be set free.  {I think Zedekiah was desperate to do something that might please God.  In fact, it did seem to have an impact because Nebuchadnezzar diverted his troops toward Egypt, giving Jerusalem relief.}  Then in verse 11 we see that the former slave owners immediately took back their slaves.  This made God angry beyond description.  He said in verse 16 that this action “profaned” the name of God.  {This little story is amazing when you think about the audacity of the Israelite leaders and slave owners, not to mention the king.  How God exercised so much patience is beyond me.  To immediately disobey one of God’s laws upon seeing Nebuchadnezzar diverting his troops would have been asking for trouble from God Himself, and they got it.}

Next post – Chapter 35

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