May 8, 2014.
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 27-31.
Background: Jeremiah 22-26.
Concepts and Connections.
Submit to Nebuchadnezzar: At the beginning of this chapter, we get an interesting command given to Jeremiah that doesn’t happen all that often in prophecy. He is told to send word to the nations around Judah and give them a warning. As a visual aid, Jeremiah was to put on a yoke to symbolize the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar that the Lord would make all the nations, including Judah, wear. However, those who were not God’s people are given a chance here to live, if they will listen to the word of the Lord. He tells them that they are to submit to Nebuchadnezzar and enter into captivity under him if they are to live, for the Lord has chosen Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the known world. If they would not listen to God, He would send sword, pestilence and famine on them, just as He promised to Judah. Then Jeremiah is sent to the king of Judah to bring the same message. All the people that Jeremiah was sent to were told not to listen to their lying prophets or diviners. They were not speaking the word of God, for they were prophesying peace and prosperity when the Lord was about to bring destruction. Any who listened to them was in for a rude awakening. The people of the land were given a choice, as we see God’s mercy even in the middle of His judgement.
Hananiah the false prophet: We have read of many false prophets in the land of Judah throughout the book of Jeremiah, but here we are given an instance of a specific false prophet, Hananiah, who was prophesying that the Lord would break Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke of bondage within two years. It would seem that Babylonian captivity had just begun at this point. When Jeremiah hears this, he says “Great! I pray that your words come true!” But he knows that they won’t. He gives the people a way to test a prophets words: If a prophet prophesies peace, and peace comes, then the word came from the Lord. Jeremiah likely tells them this because he knows that peace was not going to come, for the Lord had not said so. Actually, we will read in the next chapter that Judah will be in captivity for 70 years. Hananiah takes the yoke bars that Jeremiah had made in the previous chapter and breaks them to symbolize his message. The Lord sends Jeremiah back to him to tell him that though he broke the wooden bars, there were bars of Iron on the people, as Nebuchadnezzar was as chosen vessel of God to bring about His judgment. There was no way out of it, for the Lord had determined it. Since Hananiah had prophesied falsely, however, the Lord would take his life from the earth within a year. It seems that He was done tolerating his false words.
Waiting on the Lord: The people of Judah are well into exile at this point when Jeremiah sends them a letter of a message that he has received from the Lord. This seems to be somewhat of a turning point in Jeremiah’s message to the people, as his message is more positive than it has ever been. The Lord basically tells the people to get comfortable where they are, for they are going to be there for 70 years. They were to build houses and live normal lives. They were even told to pray for the welfare of the country that they were in, for in the country’s welfare would they find their own. However, when 70 years were complete, the Lord would visit His people. The Lord had plans for His people, and His plans were not that they would be in captivity forever. This was just their lot at the moment due to their disobedience. However, they were to wait on the Lord, for their time of punishment was finite. Soon they would once again call on His name, and be found by Him. Soon they would be restored. But still they were warned not to listen to their false prophets and diviners who told them otherwise, for they were only spreading false hope. At the end we read of another specific false prophet, Shemaiah of Nehelam, who the Lord was going to punish individually for speaking in His name when He did not send him. This should not be taken lightly.
Restoration of God’s people: Continuing on the thoughts from the previous chapter, the Lord goes on to tell of the restoration that He is planning for His children after their time of punishment has been endured. He was not going to leave them unpunished, for He is righteous, but He is also merciful and would break the yoke that He had put on them. Then they would come out to serve the Lord and David their King that He would raise up. Notice the Messianic prophecy that is incorporated in verse nine, which sets the time period of the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy (often in prophecy there is a double fulfillment, one in the near future and then an ultimate fulfillment). The plan of God was to send His Messiah into the world to save the world, Israel and beyond. These things were to be written in a book, so that the people of God could know of His salvation when it would come about. They would understand it in the latter days.
1. Mourning into Joy: Though the people of Judah were in mourning due to their situation, the Lord would turn their mourning into joy. He speaks as though speaking to the remnant that will come out and be saved, as He describes the coming glory and joy that they would experience when He visits them. The Lord loves with an everlasting love, and He would not forget His people completely. This is a message of rejoicing, a display of a time that is full of laughter and dancing. The glory of the Lord would be shown throughout the peoples, and His people would be glad. Listen to the words that the Lord uses and notice HIs excitement and love for His people. We don’t always picture God having these characteristics, thus is is good to reflect on a section of scripture that reveals this part of His character to us.
2. The new covenant: The latter part of this oracle is about the new covenant that the Lord would make with His people in the latter days, the covenant through the Messiah. Parts of this section are quoted by the Hebrew writer (see Hebrews 10:16) when he is talking about Christ’s sacrifice, once for all. The new covenant was to be with all people who would bear the name of Christ, who would believe in Him and follow His ways. It would not be like the old covenant through Moses, a covenant based on works that did not have the full power to forgive sins. It would be a covenant that was made in the blood of the pure Lamb of God, sinless and consecrated. Washed in this blood, we are free from works of the Law, free from a salvation based on something that we as humans would never obtain. God’s people broke His old covenant. The new one would be different, filled with more glory. What a wonderful promise.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Mark 15-16.
The Lord be with you.