Setting Forth God’s Retributive Justice
In the sections following Jeremiah 25, there is a mixture of judgment and hope for Israel (chapters 26 – 45), and then judgment on other nations: Egypt, Philistia, Hazor, Damascus, Ammon, Moab, and Edom (chapters 46 – 51).
The Fall of Jerusalem: Jeremiah 31 – 45
Israel has no one to blame for the impending trauma, and societal disruption, but themselves. Jeremiah has pleaded for many years for the people to repent, but the gospel was rejected by the leaders of the land (chapters 26 – 29). The seize of Jerusalem, and its final fall, is set forth in chapters 31 – 45.
Swept up in the chaos of the times, Jeremiah was kidnapped and taken against his will to Egypt for his own safety.
In the midst of the chaos, destruction, and death, Jeremiah does have something hopeful to say. His message of hope for the future is found in chapters 30 – 33. Jeremiah found the courage to deliver his message of hope by studying the Law of Moses. In Deuteronomy 30, Moses had told the people that when they turned from the Lord, and turn they would, and did, God would visit them in grace and mercy, and restore His covenant blessings. God was not going to abandon His people forever.
In fact, Jeremiah said that God would one day renew His covenant with His people and transform their hearts. Hearts of stone would be replaced with hearts of flesh which are sensitive to the touch of the finger of God. That promise finds ultimate in the New Covenant which every Jew and Gentile has access to by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
A Hopeful Future for Modern Israel
By way of application, there are Bible teachers who sincerely believe that one day Israel will, as a nation, be converted to Christ. The Jews will return to the Land of Promise, the gospel will be preached, and God will put a new heart into His ancient people.
History confirms that God brings revival and spiritual renewal to various nations. Spain, Germany, Scotland, England, Ireland, and America have all been blessed with an outpouring of God’s Spirit. Perhaps the modern nation of Israel will yet come under the sound of the gospel and there will be a national conversion to Christ.
While keeping that hope alive in the heart, the Bible doctrine that the Church is also a “nation” into whom God has pour His Spirit must not be neglected. Peter explains how, collectively, Christians are to be viewed. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
God’s Judgment on Babylon: Jeremiah 50 – 51
Time and again history reveals that God uses a godless and ruthless ruler and nation to judge His people, and then the Lord judges His own instrument of wrath. The Lord does not hesitate to claim His sovereignty over all that is good and bad. “I form the Light, and create Darkness: I make Peace, and create Evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). Even if the meaning of “create” (bara) is determined to mean “permit”, the force of the argument does not negate what God ultimately decrees. It is God “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).
Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
Though God ordained that Babylon destroy Israel in 586 BC, He does not condone their violence and own idolatry. Babylon too will come under God’s retributive justice. The pride of Babylon is denounced by Jeremiah. It is a personal pride, embodied in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, and it is a historical pride going all the way back to Genesis 11:1-9.
In Scripture, Babylon is the epitome of rebellion against God as the people found honor and glory in wealth, war, and national unity. Therefore, God will give Babylon over to another warring power in the rise of Cyrus the Great and the Persian Empire. Babylon will be broken and swept into the dustbin of human history.
Epilogue: Jeremiah 52 (2 Kings 25)
Jeremiah’s begins this chapter with the destruction of Jerusalem. The walls of the city are breached, Solomon’s Temple is burnt, and many of the inhabitants of the Holy City are taken into exile. The dire warnings of Jeremiah were fulfilled. The tragic fate the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (596 – 586 BC) is noted. Though appointed king in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17), Zedekiah revolted against his benefactor, leading to the Babylonian assault on Jerusalem. Zedekiah was taken captive, his children executed before him, prior to his own eyes being blinded (2 Kings 25:7). The way of the transgressor is hard.
The Gospel of Free Grace and Mercy is Proclaimed
There is a note of hope in the final verses of Jeremiah, for the servant of God recorded the restoration of Jehoiachin, heir to the throne of David. The new king of Babylon after the death of Nebuchadnezzar was his son, Evil-merodach. In the first year of his reign (c. 561 BC), Evil-merodach brought Jehoiachin out of prison, spoke kindly to him, gave him a new change of garments, and invited him to the royal table each day for food and fellowship.
Spiritually, that is what the Lord does for every sinner. The Lord Jesus comes to a sinner who is in bondage to sin and death, having been taken captive by Satan at his will. The natural state of every sinner is one of helplessness, and hopelessness. The sinner can do nothing to help himself, or change his situation. He cannot free himself. He needs a Savior, and a Friend. Jesus is a Savior, and a Friend of sinners.
When Jesus comes to set a captive free, He comes with healing in His wings. The Lord restores the spiritual eyesight of those who have been blinded by the god of this world. Then, the soul of the sinner, once clothed with shame and dishonor is given new garments to wear, the garments of righteousness and holiness. A royal invitation is extended to the soul set free. “Come and dine,” says the Master. “Come and dine. There is food and fellowship. Come and dine.”
Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!
The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called unto them, “Come and dine”;
There they found their heart’s desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.
Soon the Lamb will take His bride
To be ever at His side,
All the host of heaven will assembled be;
Oh, ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally.”
Charles B. Widmeyer