John T. Willis

Monday, May 23, 2011

Yahweh will overthrow Babylon, bring North Israel and Judah back to Canaan, and Heal his wounded people--Jeremiah 30:1-17

The first two hope oracles in Jeremiah 30-33 include four of the six promises briefly summarized in the previous blog in the study of the Book of Jeremiah. These two hope oracles appear in Jeremiah 30:1-17.

I. Introduction of Jeremiah 30-33. Jeremiah 30:1-3.
a. Yahweh commands Jeremiah to WRITE IN A BOOK all the words Yahweh had spoken to Jeremiah [originally orally]. This BOOK is Jeremiah 30-33. 30:1-2.
b. Yahweh declares to Jeremiah that "the days are surely coming" that Yahweh will accomplish many things in behalf of his people who are now living in Babylon.
First, Yahweh declares that he "will restore the fortunes of Yahweh's people ISRAEL AND JUDAH." [Note the emphasis on the unity of North Israel and Judah in
30:3, 4, 7, 10. After North Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE, several spokespersons of Yahweh announced that Yahweh will re-unite North Israel and South Judah into Yahweh's original united people. Hezekiah coordinated a great passover in Jerusalem to unify North Israelites and South Judeans in ca. 700 BCE--2 Chronicles
30, especially verses 1, 5-6, 10-12, 18, 21, 25. Seventy to ninty years later, Josiah again coordinated a great passover in Jerusalem to unify North Israelies and South Judeans in ca. 630-610 BCE--2 Chronicles 35, especially verses 4-5, 12-13, 17-18. Previous blogs have highlighted Yahweh's strong concern for the unification of North Israel and South Judah in earlier chapters in the Book of Jeremiah: see for example Jeremiah 3:6-18; 5:11, 20; 23:13-14.
Second, Yahweh declares he "will bring the Babylonian exiles back to the land of Canaan." This occurred by a series of returns from Babylon to Israel, beginning with Zerubbabel and Joshua and the Jews who rebuilt the Jerusalem temple. See Ezra 2-6; Haggai; Zechariah 1-6. 30:3.

II. Yahweh declares he will overthrow Babylon and raise up a descendant of David to serve God's people. Jeremiah 30:4-11.
a. Like many hope oracles in Jeremiah 30-33, the oracle in 30:4-11 begins as a doom oracle. In Babylon, the Judean exiles were in panic, terror, having no peace, suffering in pain "like a woman in labor," distress. [The expression "like a woman in labor" occurs frequently in the Book of Jeremiah to symbolize the affliction of God's people who were under oppression, destruction, and exile--see 4:31; 6:24;
13:21. Jeremiah borrowed this expression from Micah--See Micah 4:9, 10; 5:3].
b. Yahweh declares he "will break the yoke from of the neck" of Babylon and "burst his bonds." This clearly refers to the story of the conflict between Jeremiah and Hananiah recorded in Jeremiah 27-28; see especially 28:4, 10-14. The penitent Judean exiles will then serve Yahweh and "David their king." David their king is an anonymous descendant of David, but in this context clearly Zerubbabel. See Zechariah 3; 6:9-15. 30:8-9.
c. Yahweh then reassures the Judean exiles in Babylon that they are to have no fear or be dismayed, because Yahweh is going to SAVE them from far away and their offspring "from the land of their captivity," namely, Babylon. JACOB [North Israel] shall return and have quiet and ease, and no one shall make him afraid. Yahweh promises: "I AM WITH YOU" to SAVE you. Yahweh will indeed punish his people because of their persistent sins, but the time will come that he will "make an end" among all the nations among which Yahweh scattered them. 30:10-11.

III. Yahweh will HEAL his sinful people. Jeremiah 30:12-17.
a. Again, the hope oracle in Jeremiah 30-12-17 begins as if it were a doom oracle. As THE GREAT PHYSICIAN, Yahweh examines Israel and declares her hurt is INCURABLE, her wound is GRIEVOUS; there is NO MEDICINE for her wound, NO HEALING for her. Her situation is hopeless, because her guilt is great, her sins are numerous. All her LOVERS [the Baals, foreign nations] have abandoned God's people and care nothing for God's people. The reason God's people is suffering is that YAHWEH HIMSELF has "dealt him the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe." 30:12-15.
b. Suddenly, surprising, Yahweh changes his message. Yahweh will DEVOUR those who now devour God's people, all his foes will go into captivity, will PLUNDER those who plunder God's people, and will MAKE A PREY who had treated God's people as a prey. God's people had been an OUTCAST whose opponents declared: "It is Zion; no one cares for her!"; but NOW, Yahweh will RESTORE HEALTH to his people and HEAL his people. 30:16-17.

Briefly summarizing these FOUR HOPES are:
1. Yahweh will overthrow Babylon.
2. Yahweh will bring the Judean exiles from Babylon back to the land of Canaan.
3. Yahweh will raise up an anonymous descendant of David to support his people.
4. Yahweh will heal his penitent sinful people.

Yahweh is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving transgression, iniquity, and sin. All of us are recipients of God's steadfast love.

Share YOUR insights and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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