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Asbury Bible Commentary – XIII. The Book of Consolation (Chs. 30–33)
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XIII. The Book of Consolation (Chs. 30–33)

Most scholars regard chs. 30-33 as a distinct section within the book of Jeremiah. The future restoration of Israel is the primary theme of this section. (For an understanding of the debate over the authenticity and date of these oracles, see Thompson, 551-53.)

The opening statements (30:1-3) make clear the eschatological character of this section. The promise of restoration is addressed to all Israel.

Before Israel can experience the grace of salvation, she must endure distress and pain like a woman in labor on that day of her discipline through God's righteous judgment (30:4-11). This day of judgment will be followed by yet another day (“in that day,” v. 8) in which the nation will again be saved from those who rule over them.

Though no one will care for Israel, Yahweh will care for her and heal her wounds (30:12-17). The One who strikes her with incurable wounds because of her many sins is also her Healer (see also 33:6). “Because you are called an outcast” (v. 17) is the reason the Healer will act in grace. Yahweh is the champion of the poor, the afflicted, and the despised in the world.

Restored Israel will experience the full blessings of restoration (30:18-20; see also 31:1-14; 33:10-13). The mood of the restored community will be the same as that of Israel when they found Yahweh's favor (ḥēn), love ('ahabâ[h]), and loving-kindness (ḥeseḏ) during their exodus from Egypt and in the days of wilderness wanderings (31:2-6). Their ruler, by risking death, will approach Yahweh's presence to establish a covenant relationship between Yahweh and his people (30:21-22). This priestly Mediator and King will accomplish the goal of the old covenant (see v. 22). The Davidic ruler (a righteous branch) and the Levitical priests play a significant role in Jeremiah's eschatology (see 33:14-26).

The description of the New Exodus (31:7-14; see also Isa 40:3-5, 11; 41:18-20; et al.) contains several references to Yahweh's direct involvement to ransom and redeem (v. 11) his people. “Because I am Israel's father . . . so there is hope for your future” is Yahweh's word of grace to those who weep and lament over their destruction (vv. 9, 17). The Redeemer is a father who loves his prodigal son (v. 20). The way of their return will be a highway (see Isa 40:3). New conditions will be brought into existence by the Creator God who has the power to create (bārā') things that do not exist (vv. 21-22). Yahweh's ultimate goal is to dwell among his people as the Righteous and Holy One, and to refresh the weary and satisfy the faint (vv. 23-25).

The re-creation and reestablishment of Israel as an eschatological community under the watchful eyes of Yahweh is the theme of 31:27-28. Members of the restored community will live with a greater sense of their individual responsibility to make choices that will lead to their own life or death (vv. 29-30; see Eze 18).

Once in their history of salvation, Yahweh revealed to Israel his will through his covenant with them at Sinai (Ex 19-24). Jer 31:31-34 contains Yahweh's promise of a new covenant relationship with those who would be restored after their judgment for breaking the old covenant. Wesley comments, “It is not called the new covenant, because it was as the substance new . . . but because it was revealed after a new manner. . . . It was likewise new in regard of the efficacy of the spirit attending it. . .” (p. 2209). Yahweh's commitment is to be a gracious and faithful God to a people who by their own very nature and will are incapable of obeying him. The goal of this covenant is the same as that of the old covenant (“I will be their God, and they will be my people,” v. 33). The newness of this covenant is in that the inner being (“in their minds . . . on their hearts”) will become the depository of Yahweh's instruction (tôrâ[h]). Whereas the law of the old covenant directs the people of God to their duty, the Gospel “brings the grace of regeneration by which the heart is changed, and enabled for duty” (Wesley, 2209). Yahweh's promise includes a thorough cleansing of the heart (33:8; circumcise, Dt 30:6) that is corrupted by sin (17:1), and the gift of singleness of heart and action (32:39-40). The heart cleansed of sin will instinctively and without pressure from any external source yearn to acknowledge Yahweh's sovereign lordship (“know the Lord, 31:34; see Dt 6:4-5). The new covenant also offers to those who enter into a personal relationship with God the assurance of his total forgiveness of their sins.

The recipients of the new covenant are guaranteed their national existence by the Creator who established the laws of nature (31:35-37). There is no suggestion of the merits of the nation here. Emphasis is on the dependability and eternality of God's word to an undeserving nation. His goal is not only to establish a new covenant, but also to rebuild his city with new measurements as a New Jerusalem (vv. 38-40; see Eze 40-48).

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for” (Heb 11:1) finds a practical application in Jer 32. His purchase of the land was not just a courageous act; it was a demonstration of his faith that nothing is too hard for Yahweh and that he is able to establish order and life in the midst of chaos and lifelessness (32:15, 17). “Is anything too hard for me?” (v. 27) is Yahweh's response to Jeremiah.