The Word Made Fresh
1This word came from the LORD to Jeremiah:
2The LORD, the God of Israel, says, “You are to write a book containing everything I have told you. 3The days are coming soon when I will restore the good fortunes of my people, both Israel and Judah, and I will bring them all back to the land I gave their ancestors, and it will belong to them.”
4This is what the LORD has to say to Israel and Judah:
5Thus says the LORD:
“We have heard the cries of fear and terror and violence.
6Ask yourselves, can a man give birth to a child?
Then why do I see every man with hands on hips,
like a woman in labor?
Why has every face become pale?
7Alas! That day is one which has never had its like;
a time of suffering for Jacob.
Still, he will be saved from it!
8On that day, says the LORD Almighty,
I will break the yoke around his neck
and his bonds will be severed,
and strangers will no longer make him their servants.
9Instead, they will serve the LORD their God,
and David their king who will be raised up for them.
10“But as for you, Jacob, don’t be afraid.
And don’t be disappointed, Israel.
I am going to rescue you from far away,
Including all your children from the land where they are captives.
Jacob shall return, and will have peace,
and there will be no one to threaten him.
11I am with you,” says the LORD, “and I will rescue you.
I will destroy all the nations among whom you were scattered,
but I will spare you.
I won’t destroy you, but you will be chastised fairly –
I will by no means leave you unpunished.”
12The LORD says: “Your pain is incurable
and your wounds are deep.
13There is no one available to defend you.
There is no medicine to heal your wounds.
14All your lovers have forgotten you
because they care nothing for you,
and because I have allowed you to be injured
by enemies who are merciless,
and because your guilt is great and your sins are many.
15Why do you weep over your pains?
Your wounds are incurable, and it is because your guilt is great
and your sins so numerous that I have done this to you.
16But, all the enemies who would devour you will be devoured.
Every one of your foes shall be taken into captivity.
Those who plunder you will themselves be plundered,
and those who have preyed on you will be themselves preyed upon.
17I will restore your health and heal your wounds,” says the LORD,
“because they have called you outcasts.
They say, ‘It is only Zion. Nobody cares.’”
18This is what the LORD says:
“I am going to restore the fortunes of the families of Jacob,
and I will have compassion on their settlements.
The city, too, shall be rebuilt on its foundations,
and the fortress shall be restored in its rightful place.
19They will raise a glad thanksgiving,
with the clamor of all the people shouting joyfully.
And I will increase their number – they will not be few.
I will make them honored – they will not be dishonored.
20Their children will be as numerous as in days gone by,
and the people will stand before me
and I will punish everyone who oppresses them.
21Their royal leader shall be one of their own –
their ruler shall come from among them.
I will bring him before you
and he will be brave to approach me,
for whom else would dare to do so?” says the LORD.
22“And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
23Look! The LORD’s storm is coming!
The LORD’s anger has gone out, spinning like a tempest,
and it will burst upon the wicked.
24The terrible anger of the LORD will not relent
until all has been accomplished according to God’s will.
In the days yet to come you will understand all of this.
1-3: God instructs Jeremiah to write down the words he has received, because “the days are coming” when God will restore Israel and Judah. If the words are written, they will serve as evidence that what has happened was foretold by God.
4-9: God gives Jeremiah a “word” that acknowledges the suffering Israel and Judah have endured, but promises a day when their fortunes will be reversed, when the worship of the LORD will be restored, and when a new king like David will be their leader.
10-11: God promises Israel that the exiles will be returned and will live in peace. God will make an end of the “nations among which I scattered you.” Let’s see; that would be Assyria, Babylon, Edom, Aram, and Moab. Where are these nations now? Not one of them is still in existence.
12-17: A helpless and hopeless situation is described, but once again God promises that restoration will come.
18-22: To counterbalance the emphasis on their suffering that has characterized the first 17 verses of this chapter, now God describes their restored status. “You shall be my people and I will be your God” — this promise is articulated only 5 times in the Bible. The first time was at Exodus 6:7: “I will take you as my people, and I will be your God.” That was the original statement of God claiming the descendants of Jacob suffering in slavery in Egypt. Here it is being repeated as a promise that God is reinstituting the plan to claim these people.
23-24: That’s how God works: God’s wrath accomplishes God’s word. We’ll understand it all by and by, says Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s faith is solid and unshakeable. He is certain that, in spite of all the terrible things that have happened and will continue to take place for a while, God is in charge and still loves God’s people even though they have been unfaithful. This is a promise to us as well. Whenever we begin to wander through life without a connection to the One who made us and claims us, we still are not lost – we still can return. God’s arms are always open.