God’s Everlasting Love Jeremiah 30—31
Parenting is not easy. Over the years we may excuse some infractions, but we must punish our children’s blatant disobedience. So it was in the days of the prophet Jeremiah. The Israelites were blatantly breaking God’s law; still worse, they didn’t care.
God warned them through prophet after prophet. Finally fed up, He allowed Assyria to conquer the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. and delivered the southern kingdom into the hands of Babylon 136 years later. From 605 B.C. to 586 B.C., Babylon subjugated Judah, then destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. and forced the survivors into captivity.
Scripture teaches, “Whom the Lᴏʀᴅ loves He chastens” (Heb. 12:6). The Jewish people have endured their share of chastening over the years. Yet, in Jeremiah 30—31, God, like a loving parent, explains that He still loves them, will forgive them, and will return them to their land.
Out of love, He mercifully left them key men of God who continued to declare His Word despite the nation’s impending doom. Jeremiah was one of those men:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lᴏʀᴅ, saying, “Thus speaks the Lᴏʀᴅ God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lᴏʀᴅ, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lᴏʀᴅ. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it’” (Jer. 30:1–3).
Later and Still Later
The context of the return is rooted in the distant future. Jeremiah saw the immediate Babylonian Captivity, but he also saw far past it: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he [Jacob, meaning Israel] shall be saved out of it” (v. 7).
The “time of Jacob’s trouble” is the future, seven-year Tribulation. Jesus echoed Jeremiah: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:21).
Perhaps God links Israel’s return from Babylon with the Tribulation because the times of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian Captivity and will conclude when Jesus returns to rescue Israel at the end of the Tribulation and establish the Davidic, Millennial Kingdom.
God’s greatest desire for the Jewish people has always been for them to serve Him with willing hearts. He desires no less for His children through the church. In fact, born-again believers have less excuse for their disobedience than the Israelites had because, unlike them, believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit and possess the complete and readily available (at least in the West) Word of God. Based on God’s principle “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Lk. 12:48), disobedient Christians may deserve the greater chastisement.
Yet God is the God of redemption. His goal is to restore people, not to reject and abandon them:
“‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the Lᴏʀᴅ, ‘nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity’” (Jer. 30:10).
God not only promises long-range, future restoration, but also an eventual release from the immediate punishment. He also promises to punish Israel’s oppressors:
Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished. For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds (vv. 11, 17).
God continually reminds the Jewish people of His unfailing love and protection and their future restoration. What a wonderful model He establishes for earthly parents. Though we are forced to correct our children, we must never stop loving them or seeking their best interests. Whom the Lord loves He chastens. But God’s chastening does not last forever. He loves Israel and will protect it and keep His promises.