In these verses, as in those foregoing, the deplorable case of the Jews in captivity is set forth, but many precious promises are given them that in due time they should be relieved and a glorious salvation wrought for them.
I. God himself appeared against them: he scattered them (Jer. 30:11); he did all these things unto them, Jer. 30:15. All their calamities came from his hands; whoever were the instruments, he was the principal agent. And this made their case very sad that God, even their own God, spoke concerning them, to pull down and to destroy. Now, 1. This was intended by him as a fatherly chastisement, and no other (Jer. 30:11): “I will correct thee in measure, or according to judgment, with discretion, no more than thou deservest, nay, no more than thou canst well bear.” What God does against his people is in a way of correction, and that correction is always moderated and always proceeds from love: “I will not leave thee altogether unpunished, as thou art ready to think I should, because of thy relation to me.” Note, A profession of religion, though ever so plausible, will be far from securing to us impunity in sin. God is no respecter of persons, but will show his hatred of sin wherever he finds it, and that he hates it most in those that are nearest to him. God here corrects his people for the multitude of their iniquity, and because their sins were increased, Jer. 30:14, 15. Are our sorrows multiplied at any time and do they increase? We must acknowledge that it is because our sins have been multiplied and they have increased. Iniquities grow in us, and therefore troubles grow upon us. But, 2. What God intended as a fatherly chastisement they and others interpreted as an act of hostility; they looked upon him as having wounded them with the wound of an enemy and with the chastisement of a cruel one (Jer. 30:14), as if he had designed their ruin, and neither mitigated the correction nor had any mercy in reserve for them. It did indeed seem as if God had dealt thus severely with them, as if he had turned to be their enemy and had fought against them, Isa. 63:10. Job complains that God had become cruel to him and multiplied his wounds. When troubles are great and long we have need carefully to watch over our own hearts, that we entertain not such hard thoughts as these of God and his providence. His are the chastisements of a merciful one, not of a cruel one, whatever they may appear.
II. Their friends forsook them, and were shy of them. None of those who had courted them in their prosperity would take notice of them now in their distress, Jer. 30:13. It is commonly thus when families go to decay; those hang off from them that had been their hangers-on. In two cases we are glad of the assistance of our friends and need their service:—1. If we be impeached, accused, or reproached, we expect that our friends should appear in vindication of us, should speak a good word for us when we cannot put on a face to speak for ourselves; but here there is none to plead thy cause, none to stand up in thy defence, none to intercede for thee with thy oppressors; therefore God will plead their cause, for he might well wonder there was none to uphold a people that had been so much the favourites of Heaven, Isa. 63:5. 2. If we be sick, or sore, or wounded, we expect our friends should attend us, advise us, sympathize with us, and, if occasion be, lend a hand for the applying of healing medicines; but here there is none to do that, none to bind up thy wounds, and by counsels and comforts to make proper applications to thy case; nay (Jer. 30:14), All thy lovers have forgotten thee; out of sight out of mind; instead of seeking thee, they forsake thee. Such as this has often been the case of religion and serious godliness in the world; those that from their education, profession, and hopeful beginnings, one might have expected to be its friends and lovers, its patrons and protectors, desert it, forget it, and have nothing to say in its defence, nor will do any thing towards the healing of its wounds. Observe, Thy lovers have forgotten thee, for I have wounded thee. When God is against a people who will be for them? Who can be for them so as to do them any kindness? See Job 30:11. Now, upon this account, their case seemed desperate and past relief (Jer. 30:12): Thy bruise is incurable, thy wound grievous, and (Jer. 30:15) thy sorrow is incurable. The condition of the Jews in captivity was such as no human power could redress the grievances of; there they were like a valley full of dead and dry bones, which nothing less than Omnipotence can put life into. Who could imagine that a people so diminished, so impoverished, should ever be restored to their own land and re-established there? So many were the aggravations of their calamity that their sorrow would not admit of any alleviation, but they seemed to be hardened in it, and their souls refused to be comforted, till divine consolations proved strong ones, too strong to be borne down even by the floods of grief that overwhelmed them. Thy sorrow is incurable because thy sins, instead of being repented of and forsaken, were increased. Note, Incurable griefs are owing to incurable lusts. Now in this deplorable condition they are looked upon with disdain (Jer. 30:17): They called thee an outcast, abandoned by all, abandoned to ruin; they said, This is Zion, whom no man seeks after. When they looked on the place where the city and temple had been built they called that an outcast; now all was in ruins, there was no resort to it, no residence in it, none asked the way to Zion, as formerly; no man seeks after it. When they looked on the people that formerly dwelt in Zion, but were now in captivity (and we read of Zion dwelling with the daughter of Babylon, Zech. 2:7), they called them outcasts; these are those who belong to Zion, and are wont to talk much of it and weep at the remembrance of it, but no man seeks after them, or enquires concerning them. Note, It is often the lot of Zion to be deserted and despised by those about her.
III. For all this God will work deliverance and salvation for them in due time. Though no other hand, nay, because no other hand, can cure their wound, his will, and shall. 1. Though he seemed to stand at a distance from them, yet he assures them of his presence with them, his powerful and gracious presence: I will save thee, Jer. 30:10. I am with thee, to save thee, Jer. 30:11. When they are in their troubles he is with them, to save them from sinking under them; when the time has come for their deliverance he is with them, to be ready upon the first opportunity, to save them out of their trouble. 2. Though they were at a distance, remote from their own land, afar off in the land of their captivity, yet there shall salvation find them out, thence shall it fetch them, them and their seed, for they also shall be known among the Gentiles, and distinguished from them, that they may return, Jer. 30:10. 3. Though they were now full of fears, and continually alarmed, yet the time shall come when they shall be in rest and quiet, safe and easy, and none shall make them afraid, Jer. 30:10. 4. Though the nations into which they were dispersed should be brought to ruin, yet they should be preserved from that ruin (Jer. 30:11): Though I make a full end of the nations whither I have scattered thee, and there might be danger of thy being lost among them, yet I will not make a full end of thee. It was promised that in the peace of these nations they should have peace (Jer. 29:7), and yet in the destruction of these nations they should escape destruction. God’s church may sometimes be brought very low, but he will not make a full end of it, Jer. 5:10, 18. 5. Though God correct them, and justly, for their sins, their manifold transgressions and mighty sins, yet he will return in mercy to them, and even their sin shall not prevent their deliverance when God’s time shall come. 6. Though their adversaries were mighty, God will bring them down, and break their power (Jer. 30:16): All that devour thee shall be devoured, and thus Zion’s cause will be pleaded and will be made to appear to all the world a righteous cause. Thus Zion’s deliverance will be brought about by the destruction of her oppressors; and thus her enemies will be recompensed for all the injury they have done her; for there is a God that judges in the earth, a God to whom vengeance belongs. “They shall every one of them, without exception, go into captivity, and the day will come when those that now spoil thee shall be a spoil.” Those that lead into captivity shall go into captivity, Rev. 13:10. This might serve to oblige the present conquerors to use their captives well, because the wheel would turn round, and the day would come when they also should be captives, and let them do now as they would then be done by. 7. Though the wound seem incurable, God will make a cure of it (Jer. 30:17): I will restore health unto thee. Be the disease ever so dangerous, the patient is safe if God undertakes the cure.
IV. Upon the whole matter, they are cautioned against inordinate fear and grief, for in these precious promises there is enough to silence both. 1. They must not tremble as those that have no hope in the apprehension of future further trouble that might threaten them (Jer. 30:10): Fear thou not, O my servant Jacob! neither be dismayed. Note, Those that are God’s servants must not give way to disquieting fears, whatever difficulties and dangers may be before them. 2. They must not sorrow as those that have no hope for the troubles which at present they lie under, Jer. 30:15. “Why criest thou for thy affliction? It is true thy carnal confidences fail thee, creatures are physicians of no value, but I will heal thy wound, and therefore, Why criest thou? Why dost thou fret and complain thus? It is for thy sin (Jer. 30:14, 15), and therefore, instead of repining, thou shouldest be repenting. Wherefore should a man complain for the punishment of his sins? The issue will be good at last, and therefore rejoice in hope.”