The Lord Promises
1-2I was still being held prisoner in the courtyard of the palace guards when the Lord told me:
I am the Lord, and I created the whole world. 3Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don't know and can't find out.
4-5Many of the houses in Jerusalem and some of the buildings at the royal palace have been torn down to be used in repairing the walls to keep out the Babylonian attackers. Now there are empty spaces where the buildings once stood. But I am furious, and these spaces will be filled with the bodies of the people I kill. The people of Jerusalem will cry out to me for help, but they are evil, and I will ignore their prayers.
6Then someday, I will heal this place and my people as well, and let them enjoy unending peace. 7I will give this land to Israel and Judah once again, and I will make them as strong as they were before. 8They sinned and rebelled against me, but I will forgive them and take away their guilt. 9When that happens, all nations on earth will see the good things I have done for Jerusalem, and how I have given it complete peace. The nations will celebrate and praise and honor me, but they will also tremble with fear because of the powerful things I have done.
10Jeremiah, you say that this land is a desert without people or animals, and for now, you are right. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem are deserted, and people and animals are nowhere to be seen. But someday you will hear 11 happy voices and the sounds of parties and wedding celebrations. And when people come to my temple to offer sacrifices to thank me, you will hear them say:
“We praise you,
You are good to us,
and your love never fails.”
The land will once again be productive. 12-13Now it is empty, without people or animals. But when that time comes, shepherds will take care of their flocks in pastures near every town in the hill country, in the foothills to the west, in the Southern Desert, in the land of the Benjamin tribe, and around Jerusalem and the towns of Judah.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
The Lord's Wonderful Promise
14 The Lord said:
I made a wonderful promise to Israel and Judah, and the days are coming when I will keep it.
15I promise that the time will come
when I will appoint a king
from the family of David,
a king who will be honest
and rule with justice.
16In those days,
Judah will be safe;
Jerusalem will have peace
and will be named,
“The Lord Gives Justice.”
17 The king of Israel will be one of David's descendants, 18 and there will always be priests from the Levi tribe serving at my altar and offering sacrifices to please me and to give thanks.
19Then the Lord told me:
20I, the Lord, have an agreement with day and night, so they always come at the right time. You can't break the agreement I made with them, 21and you can't break the agreements I have made with David's family and with the priests from the Levi tribe who serve at my altar. A descendant of David will always rule as king of Israel, 22and there will be more descendants of David and of the priests from the Levi tribe than stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach.
23The Lord also said:
24You've heard foreigners insult my people by saying, “The Lord chose Israel and Judah, but now he has rejected them, and they are no longer a nation.”
25Jeremiah, I will never break my agreement with the day and the night or let the sky and the earth stop obeying my commands. 26In the same way, I will never reject the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or break my promise that they will always have a descendant of David as their king. I will be kind to my people Israel, and they will be successful again.
I am writing this just after the installation of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. Both in his campaign and in his inauguration speech Donald Trump held out a message of hope for his supporters, telling people just what they wanted to hear. It remains to be seen how much of this he will be able to deliver.
Jeremiah had the courage in his own day to proclaim a message that the Israelites did not want to hear: that God was destroying Jerusalem and sending them into exile. They had brought this upon themselves by persistent disobedience and by refusing to listen when God had sent prophets to warn them. But Jeremiah is not simply a prophet of doom. In chapter 33 he sees beyond the present disaster to a glorious time when everything would be restored, better than they ever had been. Their king would rule with justice and Jerusalem would have peace (vv 15-16).
His words were partially fulfilled when Jesus came. But they will not be fully brought to completion until he returns some time yet in the future, at the second coming. We live between these two events. For those of us who believe Jesus is our king and rules with justice. But his kingship is not universally recognized – yet. Jerusalem is not at peace – yet.
Notice verse 3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (ESV). We can make this our own as we read the Old Testament and see how old promises are fulfilled. In 1792 a shoemaker and Baptist preacher, William Carey, read this verse and preached on it with the words: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God,” travelled to India in response, and launched the missionary movement we know today.
Father, thank you for the profound truth in Jeremiah. Thank you for being utterly honest with us, confronting us with our sin, but never leaving us in despair. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ, for his love and forgiveness. And thank you too for the promises you have given us of a world totally under his reign. Amen.