Jeremiah 30 Commentary: The situation in Judah is bleak. The book of Jeremiah has led us through the steep spiritual decline of the nation. The Lord was going to need to exile the people and send them out of their country to Babylon. Many of them would die. Life would never be the same for these people. Not even repentance could let them stay in the land.
And it’s at this lowest point in the story of Judah that God breaks in with another prophecy. Now, this prophecy starts in the 30th chapter of Jeremiah. So, let’s turn there now. Jeremiah 30.
The prophecy that God starts in this chapter lasts for several chapters. And this extended prophecy has been come to be called “The Book of Consolation” by Bible commentators.
And as you can imagine from the title “Book of Consolation” this is going to be encouraging for Judah. And yet, the encouragement is about things that are not present realities. They are realities. But they’re future realities, rather than present realities.
And so, in Jeremiah 30 we’re going to see God encouraging his people to “Look Past Now to See Later.”
Jeremiah 30 Commentary For Christians
I don’t know what kind of situation you find yourself in today. As we meet here, I might be talking to a number of people who are totally distressed about any number of present realities that are troubling you to the core. You might even be suffering the consequences of some bad decision you made a long time ago. Or maybe your discomfort is a result of God’s patient and loving – and yet painful – chastening. Perhaps you’re just overwhelmed with life for other reasons.
Well, you might be struggling right now and things might be difficult – and you might even recognize that our loving and all-wise God is at the very least allowing – and very likely been causing – this trouble you’re experiencing.
And yet, that’s not the whole story. For a true Christian, you have a glorious future. Your sins are paid for and totally forgiven for Jesus’ sake. He suffered for your sin so that you don’t ever need to. In fact, you never will be separated from God because of your sin. You are eternally secure.
And because of this, good things are coming. It’s a guarantee. Things that eyes have never seen. Things that ears have never heard! They’re coming! For frail, tired, distressed, sinful, forgiven YOU!
But those things are not here yet. Are they? No, but they’re coming.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary For Jews and Christians
So, the Jews were facing some really harrowing situations, and God was the one who was doling those out. The same is true with us Christians. Now, we’re not under condemnation. We are reconciled with God. And yet, let’s not deny the fact that some things we face in this life are difficult and ponderous and leave us utterly overwhelmed and bewildered.
And so, God wants us – like he wanted the Jews in Jeremiah’s day – to “Look Past Now to See Later”.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Structure
Even the structure of Jeremiah 30 lends itself to this contrast between Now and Then.
The passage breaks down into two main sections. Both sections follow the same pattern. Each section will have the Lord speak of the Current Trouble that the Jews were facing. Then after that, the Lord points them to Future Deliverance that they can expect.
Why does God promise future deliverance for these sinners and rebels? It’s because God is merciful. And blessing is something he wants to do for his people – even if that blessing is nearly exclusively future in nature.
Well, let’s get into our text.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Command to Write a Book
Verses 1 through 3 have God commanding Jeremiah to write this Book of Consolation.
KJV Jeremiah 30:1 ¶ The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying,
Write thee all the words that I [have spoken unto thee/am about to tell you (in chs 30-31)] in a [book/scroll].
Well, why should Jeremiah write this book? What’s its purpose?
3 For, lo, the days come,
[saith/declares/affirms] the LORD,
that I will [bring again the captivity/restore the fortunes/reverse the plight] of my people Israel and Judah,
saith the LORD:
and I will [cause them to return/bring them back] to the land that I gave to their [fathers/anscestors],
and they shall possess it.
So, that’s why God wants Jeremiah to write these words in a book or a scroll. The words recorded from Jeremiah 30:1 to Jeremiah 34:7 are specifically geared towards the topic of God restoring Israel to their land after their 70 year Babylonian exile. And that’s to be some consolation to them.
And now for the first installment in the Book of Consolation. Words about Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 30:4 – 31:40. And right now, we’ll only study the rest of Jeremiah 30.
30:4 ¶ [And/Now/So] these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Section 1
And as I’ve said, the rest of Jeremiah 30 consists of two main sections: verses 5-11 and verses 12-24. Both of these sections consist of two smaller units – highlighting the Current Trouble that Judah was facing along with the Future Deliverance that they could expect from the Lord.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Current Trouble
So, we’ll start with the Current Trouble in Jeremiah 30:5-7.
And as you’ll see, these chapters are describing the coming invasion and then exile of the people of Judah.
5 For thus saith the LORD;
[We/I/You] [have heard/hear] [a voice/a sound/cries] of [trembling/terror/panic], of [fear/dread/terror], and [not of/there is no] peace [in sight].
So, the people were then currently surrounded by sounds of distress and panic and war. The current reality for them was a total lack of peace.
That’s the sound they experienced. Now, here’s the sight they saw connected with that anguish and terror.
6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man [doth travail with child/can give birth]?
Can a man give birth? The answer? No! Well, then…
wherefore do I see every [strong] man [with his hands on his loins/grabbing his stomach in pain] [between the ribs and thighs], as a woman in [travail/childbirth],
and all faces are turned [into paleness/pale]?
Why this reaction of sheer pain and terror?
7 Alas! for that day is great,
so that none is like it:
it is even the time of Jacob’s [descendants’] [trouble/distress];
but he shall be [saved/rescued] [out of/from] it.
What day is the Lord speaking of here? I would be inclined to think that he’s speaking of the day in which Babylon would come and take Judah into captivity.
And I think that’s right. He is speaking of that day. But based on what we see in this verse and what’s to follow it does seem like the Lord intends to speak of more than just the Babylonian invasion.
Note that this day the Lord speaks of is to be “great”. It’s so “great” that there is none like it. Now, an invasion from a foreign army which results in the mass killings of most of the citizens and the deportation of all others could legitimately be described as “great” and unique. After all, Judah had never been invaded and subsequently completely exiled with the Temple being destroyed and everything else.
This time is known as Jacob’s Trouble or Distress. God says he’ll be saved out of it. And the Lord of course did deliver Israel from exile after 70 years.
So, what we’ve heard so far describes pretty well what we’ve known so far of Babylon’s coming invasion and exile of Judah.
And yet, some things that we’re going to see in the “future deliverance” section in the next few verses just seem to be outside of what we know about how Israel made it back to the land.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Future Deliverance
And so let’s move on to where the passage shifts to focus on future deliverance for the Jews from this time of “Jacob’s Trouble” in Jeremiah 30:8-11.
8 ¶ For it shall come to pass [in that day/when the time for them to be rescued comes],
saith the LORD of hosts,
that I will break [his/the foreigners’] yoke from off [thy/their] neck, and will burst [thy/their] bonds, and strangers shall no more [serve themselves of him/make them their slaves]:
9 But they shall serve the LORD their God,
and [David their king/their Davidic king], whom I will raise up [as king] [unto/over] them.
So, there’s a day coming when the Jews won’t be servants to other nations. No, they will serve the Lord. Additionally, though, they will serve “David their king.”
This is either saying that the Lord will raise up for them a Davidic king. And we would know whom that will be – Jesus Christ. Or this might even be God promising to resurrect King David to rule over his people.
Either way, this has never, ever happened yet.
So, while I would tend to think that the Lord is speaking here of bringing the Jewish exiles back after their 70 year captivity in Babylon, this is really looking forward to a time that’s even beyond our current time period. This is speaking of a time after the Great Tribulation – which has yet to happen. Amazing!
So, it’s interesting. The Lord has already spoken of the Jews’ current troubles. And then when he moves on to their future deliverance, he doesn’t go right to their immediate deliverance from Babylon. He goes all the way past the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. He goes past the 400 silent years leading up to the New Testament. He continues on past the entire Church Age. And he goes to a period after the Tribulation, which we know of as the Millennium.
So, when he speaks of future deliverance for his people the Jews – he’s focusing on their ultimate deliverance as a nation. The time when their king Jesus Christ comes back and rules over them from Jerusalem.
And us Christians are going to be benefiting during that time, too. We’ll be there reigning with Christ! You think you have problems now? You do. And so do I. But, brother, sister, look past the Now to See the Later. You and I have a glorious future.
And so do the Jews. And so, the Lord continues speaking of their future deliverance in verse 10.
10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD;
neither be [dismayed/terrified], O Israel:
for, lo, I will [save/rescue] thee from afar,
and thy seed from the land of their captivity;
and Jacob shall return,
and shall be [in rest/at ease],
and be quiet,
and none shall make him afraid.
Again, I don’t believe that this can really be said of the Jews even until this day. Be at rest? Be quiet? None to make him afraid? No, this is not the reality of the Jews quite yet. But it will be one day.
Why? Why will this happen?
11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD,
to save thee:
This is the promise that God gave to Jeremiah at the beginning of the book. That he will be with the prophet to save him. One day, the protection afforded Jeremiah will also be the Jews’ experience.
though I [make a full end of/completely destroy] all nations whither I have scattered thee,
yet will I not [make a full end of/completely destroy] thee:
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Section 2
And it’s at this point in the middle of verse 11 that the Lord starts the second major section of this chapter. And we’ll see here again the pattern of God reminding them of their current trouble and then pointing them to future deliverance.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Current Trouble
We start with current trouble in Jeremiah 30:12-15.
So, God won’t make an end of Israel. They will remain. However, God continues…
but I will [correct/chasten/discipline] thee [in measure/justly],
and will not leave thee [altogether/by any means/entirely] unpunished.
12 For thus saith the LORD, [i.e., to the people of Zion]
Thy bruise is incurable,
and thy wound is [grievous/serious/severe].
13 There is none to plead thy cause,
that thou mayest be bound up:
thou hast no healing medicines.
And this was the case with them. God isn’t being deceitful with them and presenting a rosier picture than what was reality for them. They were certainly going to be invaded by Babylon. They would suffer for their chronic sin.
And no one could help them. Not even their political allies as verse 14 alludes to…
14 All thy [lovers/allies] have [forgotten/abandoned] thee;
they [seek/have concern for] thee not;
for I have [wounded/attacked] thee with the [wound/attack] of an enemy,
with [the/a] [chastisement/punishment] [of a cruel one/cruel],
for the [multitude/greatness] of thine [iniquity/wickedness];
because thy sins [were/are] [increased/numerous/so much].
15 Why [criest/cry out/complain] thou [for/about] thine [affliction/injury]?
thy [sorrow/pain] is incurable for the [multitude/greatness] of thine iniquity:
because thy sins [were/are] [increased/numerous],
I have done these things unto thee.
In other words, God declares that he himself is the one who is inflicting this punishment. And he’s doing it only because of their sin against him.
Jeremiah 30 Commentary: Future Deliverance
And because it’s God who is inflicting the punishment and he’s doing it because of Israel’s sin, well then any nation he might use as an agent of punishment will themselves be punished. It would be different maybe if there were a totally righteous nation that God would have used to judge his people. But such a nation didn’t exist and never will in this sin-cursed world. And therefore, any nation that God would use to punish his people would, in the end, themselves need to be punished.
And that’s one fact that God points out in verses 16-24 as he draws the eyes of his people the Jews to their future deliverance.
16 Therefore all they that [devour/destroy] thee shall be [devoured/destroyed];
and all thine [adversaries/enemies], every one of them, shall go into [captivity/exile];
and they that [spoil/plunder] thee shall be a [spoil/plunder],
and all that [prey upon/pillage] thee will I give [for a prey/to be pillaged].
17 For I will restore health unto thee,
and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD;
because they called thee an Outcast, saying,
This is Zion, whom no man [seeketh/cares] [after/for].
But how wrong the adversaries and spoilers were. No, indeed God does seek after Zion. And he had plans to heal their wounds and restore them to health as a nation.
And so, God would rebuild Israel.
18 Thus saith the LORD;
Behold, I will [bring again/restore] the [captivity/fortunes] of Jacob’s tents,
and have [mercy/compassion] on his [dwellingplaces/ruined homes];
and [the/every] city shall be builded upon her own [heap/ruin],
and [the palace/every occupied dwelling] shall [remain/stand] [after/on] [the manner thereof/its rightful place/its traditional site].
And those rebuilt cities would be full of people and those people would be giving thanks to God.
19 And out of [them/those places] shall proceed thanksgiving
and the voice of them that [make merry/celebrate]:
and I will multiply them,
and they shall not be [few/diminished];
I will also [glorify/honor] them,
and they shall not be [small/insignificant].
God will protect them and hurt those who try to hurt them.
20 [Their children/The descendants of Jacob] also shall be as [aforetime/formerly],
and their [congregation/community] shall be [established/reestablished] [before me/in my favor],
and I will punish all that [try to] oppress them.
Israel will be self-autonomous again.
21 And their nobles shall be [of themselves/one of their own people],
and their [governor/ruler] shall proceed from the midst of them;
And their ruler would be a godly man, which was quite a contrast to what they experienced throughout most of their history and especially for the 2 decades or so before Babylon came.
and I will cause him to draw near,
and he shall approach unto me:
for who is this that [engaged/would dare to risk] his [heart/life]
to approach unto me? saith the LORD.
22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
And so, God would be doing this. He will draw their ruler near to himself. He will be their God. He will restore them. He does it all and will do it all.
And lastly in this section and to end the chapter we have a statement that might sound very familiar. That’s because the words of verses 23 and 24 also appear in Jeremiah 23:19-20. So let’s read those.
23 Behold, the [whirlwind/tempest] of the LORD
[goeth forth with fury/wrath has gone forth],
a [continuing/sweeping] whirlwind:
it shall [fall with pain/burst] upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return,
until he have done it,
and until he have performed the intents of his heart:
in [the latter days/days to come] ye shall [consider/understand] [it/this].
Now, in chapter 23 these words are spoken by the Lord in the context of his judging false prophets. But that’s not the context here. The context here in Jeremiah 30 has the Lord speaking these words of threatening judgement on the nations that have oppressed his people Israel.
Now, unlike the first section of this chapter in verses 5-11, this second section I think could be speaking almost exclusively of Israel’s return to their land after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.
But to back out of the details of this chapter and to speak once more of it as a whole, I’d say we see that God’s purpose in this chapter is to encourage his people by both acknowledging their current trouble as well as pointing them past their trouble to the future glory that awaited his people.
I think that’s the purpose of the Apostle Paul when he tells us in the book of Romans that our present suffering is not worthy to be compared to the glory that awaits us. It’s not worthy of even comparison. The glory that you and I will receive from the Lord for trusting his son to save us for our sins should not even be placed on the same scale in your mind. There’s no comparison. Let that guarantee from the God who cannot lie encourage you to keep on going.
And so, may the Lord help us all to look past the now to see the glorious later.