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Prophet Jeremiah: Hope, Peace, and Restoration Is in Our Grasp

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  (Jeremiah 33:3)

The Prophet Jeremiah made stunning prophecies about the End-Times in regards to the scattering and regathering of Israel.

We see this in his dramatic declaration that in the last days, “the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.”  (3:18)

This prophecy has been fulfilled in our generation, with the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991.

operation exodus, russian jewish immigration, olim, aliyah

In 2015, the Jewish Agency celebrated 25 years of Operation Exodus, which brought over 1 million Jewish immigrants (olim) to Israel following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Between 1990–1999, over 1.2 million Russian Jews emmigrated to Israel.  Today, more Jews of Russian descent live in Israel (over 900,000) than in Russia (about 200,000).

Some say that the regathering of the Jewish People into a reborn Jewish State is actually not the Lord’s doing but man’s.

However Scripture reveals that the Lord Himself said through Jeremiah that He would be the one to regather what He scattered:

“He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.”  (31:10–11)

We saw the beginning of this prophetic fulfillment with the “First Aliyah” (immigration) when 25,000–30,000 Jewish immigrants came to pre-state Israel from 1882–1903.

Today, of the 14.5 million Jews in the world, about 45% live in the bountiful and blessed nation of Israel.  Yet, the Jewish People were not always so fortunate as they are today in their own land.  

The Prophet Jeremiah and the Jewish sages have much to teach us about how to stay under God’s grace in our own homelands.  Let’s take a closer look at the lives of the people in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah and the great plans that God has for each of us.

Jeremiah-Sistine-Chapel

A depiction of Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

“We Are Safe”

The primary problem of Israel in Jeremiah’s day was not that they “oppressed the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” or that they “stole and murdered, committed adultery and perjury” or even that they “followed other gods.”

What sealed their destruction was that they declared before the Lord Almighty that “we are safe, safe to do all these detestable things.”  (7:6, 9–10)

But God declared, “I have been watching!”  (7:11)

Much like the social norm of today, the people insisted, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.”  (5:12)

Jeremiah wept over the stubbornness of this people who would not turn from their sin, foreseeing the many years when the crown of glory would fall from the head of God’s elect, a time when Babylonian servants would rule His People and dwell in the city that God calls His own—Zion.

Yeshua Wept - James Tissot

Yeshua Wept, by James Tissot

Over 600 hundred years later, Yeshua (Jesus) wept over the stubbornness of a people who would not listen to Him either.   He said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  (Luke 19:42)

Yeshua Himself is the Sar Shalom or Prince of Peace.  

But in His day, people preferred to listen to the priests and pharisees, who tried to offer them religious peace and political safety; they placed heavy burdens on them that they would not help them lift (Luke 11:46).

Being our heavenly High Priest, Yeshua offers a Divine Shalom that no human priest can offer:  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful,” He said.  (John 14:27)

But the people still would not accept it.

Jeremiah also tried to lead the people toward true Shalom and away from destruction by telling them to “ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (6:16a)

But the people said, “We will not walk in it.” (6:16b)

He warned them again, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!” (6:17a)

But the people said, “We will not listen.” (6:17b)

shofar-Western Wailing Wall-Yemenite-Jew-Kotel

The call for repentance is made during the blasts of the Shevarim, which comes from the word shever, meaning fracture. Three short trembling blasts remind us of our own sinful state and the need for introspection and repentance. The Shevarim blast is also sounded to mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

What’s in It for Them?

“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.”  (Jeremiah 2:8)

What would cause a priest or prophet to lead people away from the true Shalom that God offers and, instead, lead them into ra (evil) that causes destruction?

Jeremiah explains, “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.”  (6:13)

Like Yehsua, Jeremiah called the Temple, which bears the name of the Lord, “a den of robbers.”  (7:11; Matthew 21:13)

We can see this today with televangelists who command, “Money, come to me now!” or promise that as you use your faith and donate with a credit card, God will wipe away your credit card debts.

But the Lord is still watching and says, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”  (17:9–10)

The priests and prophets of Jeremiah’s day who taught peace and safety did not receive rewards from God; instead, He promised them that “they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them.”  (6:15)

This is a sobering warning for all Believers today who as priests in the Kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:9), are each responsible for what we teach others, for it is not true that “we are safe” to sin, nor that “no harm will come to us” for doing so (see also 2 Peter 2:21).

A model of the Second Temple

A model of the Second Temple

False Hope in the Temple

“What is my beloved doing in my temple as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes?  Can consecrated meat avert your punishment? When you engage in your wickedness, then you rejoice.”  (Jeremiah 11:15)

The greedy priests and false prophets also encouraged the people to trust in their Temple sacrifices to save them, even teaching that the mere existence of Solomon’s Temple would act as a supernatural force field to protect Jerusalem from any siege.

The people approached the Holy Sanctuary saying, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”  But the Lord told them, “You are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.”  (7:8)

Likewise, trusting in our own Temple offerings or congregation service will not keep us safe either.  Jeremiah tells us what will:

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”   (17:7–8)

More than trusting in the Lord, He requires repentance:

“If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly … and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.”  (7:4–8)

signs, path to sin, repent

Repentance (Hebrew: Teshuvah — תשובה‎‎) literally means return. It is a complete turning away from the path of sin and a turning back to the path that God originally ordered for all mankind — a path toward His Shalom.

 Adonai’s Plans for Peace

“‘For I know the plans [machashabah] that I plan [hashab] toward you,’ says the LORD, ‘thoughts of peace [shalom], and not of evil [ra], to give you a future [aharit] and a hope [tiqvah].’”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

God is in the business of hashab:  planning, thinking, and creating in each of us Shalom (peace).

Shalom is a uniquely Hebrew concept that is much greater than mere comfort or freedom from worry.  Shalom encompasses blessing, perfection, wholeness, completeness, wellness, and safety, not through our own efforts but through an intimate relationship with and trust in God.

In fact, one of the many names of God is the LORD Is Peace (YHVH Shalom).

So why does peace seem so elusive at times?

If we look honestly at ourselves, we can often trace the root of calamity in our lives, even ra (evil), to refusing to recognize God and His Son, Yeshua, as the source of our Shalom and, instead, trusting in false promises made by false prophets and preachers.

Like the people of Judah, we often close our ears to His trumpet call and determine to walk down our own path of destruction with the blessings of our spiritual leaders.

Nevertheless, our Lord of Shalom who sees all continues to extend His olive branch to us.  He wants to give us His Peace as our hope for a better future.

The Hebrew word translated future is aharit, which literally means the end.

garden gate

“I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

David confirms this end: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end [aharit] of that man is Shalom.”  (Psalm 37:37)

This perfection and uprightness has been achieved through Yeshua, the door of our salvation.  He shares His perfection with us, covers us with His righteousness, and makes us complete in Him.

Though doors close between His blessings and us when we sin, God gives us 2nd and 200 and 2,000 chances to repent and open new doors on our journey in life so that when we pass through the gate of heaven, we receive His everlasting Shalom.

This is why Yeshua will forever be our gate to the Kingdom and our Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace) as we journey toward it.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace [Sar Shalom].”  (Isaiah 9:6)

Yeshua Stilling the Tempest, by James Tissot

Yeshua Stilling the Tempest, by James Tissot

Promise of a New Covenant and the Coming of the Messiah

“You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me.”  (Jeremiah 16:12)

The People of God could not keep even the most basic laws of God.

For centuries, they sinned, repented, sinned, repented until Jeremiah’s generation, who sinned even greater than their ancestors — and they did not repent over it.

The Lord had to redeem His people out of the curse of death that the law required, or else they would have truly perished forever.  

So He gave them a new covenant:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. … I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  (31:31–34)

Those who have been born of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) know the Lord in an intimate way that even the prophets and righteous men of ancient times longed to know (Matthew 13:17).

Pharisees Question Jesus-James Tissot

The Pharisees Question Yeshua, by James Tissot

Through this Brit Chadashah, Believers have become the true Temple of the Lord, and His laws are now written within us, on our hearts.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh], who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

This holy indwelling causes us to feel conviction and shame over even the least of our sins, a shame that came so rarely to the Israelites and priests.

The Lord asked, “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.”  (Jeremiah 6:15)

At one point, the people acknowledged that they did sin (8:14).

According to a collection of rabbinic homilies on the Book of Deuteronomy (Devarim Rabbah), the people rejected Jeremiah’s warnings to repent because they said they could not return to God with their shame.

Saint Aignan-Chartres

Detail of a stained glass window showing Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden, by Charles Lorin (1874–1940) located in the church of Saint Aignan, Chartres.

Jeremiah repeatedly told them that God had not completely rejected them, but wanted them to repent so they could live in peace.

The people refused to accept the Lord’s free offer of forgiveness and grace. Instead, they clung to their shame.

The rabbinic homilies teach us that it was this shame that led to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

We learn from this ancient teaching that even when we sin, the Lord does not desire to look upon our shame, but desires to forgive us if we sincerely turn away from our sin.

However, when we hold on to that shame, we become prey to the consequences of the sin that we refuse to give up.

And we truly don’t need to hold onto it anymore.

The New Covenant provided the final sacrifice for our guilt through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).  (See Isaiah 53:10; Romans 5:12, 21, 6:23.)

We only need to give all of that guilt and shame to our Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–29)

Jesus and the Little Child, by James Tissot

Jesus and the Little Child, by James Tissot

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